Who Benefited More From the Developmental Education Reform in Florida? The Role of Exemption Status

Kai ZHAO*, Christine G. MOKHER, Toby J. PARK-GAGHAN, Shouping HU

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Under Florida’s developmental education (DE) reform since 2014, recent public high school graduates and active-duty military personnel became exempt from DE and traditional placement tests. The legislation also required colleges to provide accelerated instruction strategies for students remaining in DE and offer enhanced advising and support services for all incoming students. Focusing on the differential policy impacts on exempt and nonexempt students, we used statewide administrative data to examine changes in first-year completion rates for gateway math and English courses before and after the reform. Overall, and for those deemed to be college-ready, nonexempt students benefited more from the reform; however, the opposite is true for students who were not college-ready, with exempt students benefiting more. This study confirms that each component of the reform has played a role in contributing to its success.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAERA Open
Early online date20 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305A160166 to Florida State University, and in part by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute, the U.S. Department of Education, or the Gates Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • community college
  • developmental education
  • exemption status
  • placement policy


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