For Immediate Release


Danville Community College Selected for National Program To Enhance Developmental Education


CHAPEL HILL, N.C., June 22, 2009 – Today, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and MDC, Inc. are giving nearly $1.8 million to the Commonwealth of Virginia and to Danville and Patrick Henry Community Colleges to expand groundbreaking remedial education programs that promise to boost the college completion rates of low-income students and students of color.

Every year, roughly 29,000 students in Virginia enroll in a local community college with aspirations of obtaining a college diploma, but 47 percent of them must first take non-credit remedial classes before they can begin pursuing their degrees. For most, it is wasted effort. National studies have shown that nearly two-thirds of those who take remedial classes never graduate from college.

The grants announced today will support innovative remedial programs in Virginia developed through Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count, a multi-year national initiative that is aiming to dramatically boost college graduation rates among low-income students and students of color. The remedial education models pioneered by these colleges represent some of the most promising work in the country for boosting college completion rates among struggling students.

DCC and PHCC will each receive $743,000 over three years to expand its programs to more students who need the assistance. Lumina Foundation for Education has committed $1.5 million to this initiative for evaluation and communications.

Danville Community College has a seven-pronged plan for remediation success, according to Dr. Janet Laughlin, Dean of the Division of Student Success and Academic Advancement. The grant will enable DCC to:

1. Create an Academic Success Center that will consist of math and language arts software and tutoring to provide students the opportunity to accelerate their progression through the developmental classes into college-level courses. Through the Center, tutoring will be expanded, and technology will be integrated into math and English courses.
2. Establish a Developmental Education Advisory Committee with representatives from adult basic education, area high schools, DCC, four-year colleges, and workforce services to work collaboratively to help students either bypass or successfully complete developmental classes.
3. Establish a comprehensive professional development program for faculty, staff and administrators, utilizing experts in the field of developmental education.
4. Continue to partner with public school and university colleagues to ensure that our math and English entry and exit standards are aligned.
5. Offer a summer bridge program to help students bypass or advance to a higher level of developmental math.
6. Streamline math content, as appropriate, in career-technical programs.
7. Connect students to community resources that can help them overcome non-academic barriers to success.

The grants given in Virginia are part of a larger $16.5 million effort that will reach an estimated 45,000 students nationwide. Thirteen other colleges and four states received similar grants from the Gates Foundation to build upon the promising work developed under Achieving the Dream.

"The pressing need to shore up weak academic skills in first-year students is one of the most significant, but least discussed, problems confronting higher education,” said Carol Lincoln, director of the Developmental Education Initiative and national director of Achieving the Dream for MDC. “Colleges that can figure out how to quickly and efficiently boost basic skills, particularly among students of color and low-income students, will play a leading role in helping them earn the college degrees necessary for economic success in America today.”

Virginia, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, and Texas will also each receive $300,000 over three years to build on their efforts and develop new policies that can help similar programs in other colleges. These states have also pledged to measure their progress against those in other states.

“Too many institutions have not developed powerful and effective ways to accelerate academic progress for students who start college underprepared,” said Hilary Pennington, director of Education, Postsecondary Success and Special Initiatives at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “By working together, states, community colleges, and local school districts can design programs to accelerate high-quality learning and shorten the amount of time it takes to earn a degree.”

The grants announced today advance the Gates Foundation’s efforts to ensure every young person in the United States will graduate from high school ready for college, and will obtain a postsecondary degree that prepares them to succeed in the global economy.

In today’s America, a college degree or postsecondary certificate is required to obtain a family-wage job and a shot at the middle class. Until recently, education reform efforts and national policies have focused on increasing access to college, but have done little to help students earn credentials that employers value. The Obama administration has called on the states and education leaders to work together to help the United States lead the world in percentage of college graduates by 2020.

For more information, contact Dr. Janet Laughlin, Dean of the Division of Student Success and Academic Advancement, at 434.797.6435, or click here.

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