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Research in Developmental Education (RiDE) published a glossary of
assessment terms, "A is for Assessment and Accountability" (Volume 15, Issue
2, 1998, by Melodye Wiens). Below, I'm including the definitions provided
for the terms 'developmental' and 'remedial.' For discussion purposes, I've
also added the related term, 'college level.'  Bear in mind the fact that
(as the LRNASST-posted NY Times article illustrated so well), our language
is ever-evolving. So, then, will these terms and definitions.

Developmental: In the normal/expected sequence of learning. Usually used in
counterdistinction to accelerated and/or remedial learning....Use of the
term in college education assumes/takes cognizance of the notion that there
is a gap that needs to be filled in for many students.  The claim is, thus,
that these students need to learn skills that they have not previously been
taught (in high school) and that the fault is not with their ability, but
with their preparation....[Also] Instruction designed to improve a student's
competencies in the basic skills and allow increased mastery over the
student's environment to facilitate effective learning and communication
(College Reading and Learning Association, 1990, p. 5).  Also see College
Level and Remedial.

College Level: The level of skill attainment, reasoning ability, etc.,
associated with/required by courses of study designed to lead to a
baccalaureate degree. Also known as "transfer level" in programs of a
two-year institution (College Reading and Learning Association, 1990, p. 4).
Also see Developmental and Remedial.

Remedial: Instruction designed to remove a student's deficiencies in the
basic entry or exit level skills at a prescribed level of proficiency in
order to make him or her competitive with peers.  Comments: The assumption
is that students have already been taught (or at least been exposed to
learning), but that the teaching was not effective and must be repeated
(College Reading and Learning Association, 1990, p.11).  Also see
Developmental and College Level.

Melodye Wiens
NADE President
Assistant Professor of Reading, Santiago Canyon College


My college is in discussion about using the term remedial verses using the
term developmental. I am trying to convince my school that we should be
using the developmental, but am having a very difficult time convincing a
few faculty. Is there anyone out there who would be willing to explain the
difference between the two and why we should use one verses the other. Any
assistance would be greatly appreciated.
MC Denmark
Director, Student Resource Center
Washington & Jefferson College
Washington, PA 15301

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