At Martha's request, I have written the following review that I hope proves useful to all my colleagues. A Review of Martha Maxwell's Improving Student Learning Skills. A New Edition. H&H Publishing Company, Inc. Clearwater, Fl., 1997. If you want a basic education and overview of the history, transformation and latest developments in developmental education, read Martha Maxwell's latest book, Improving Student Learning Skills, A New Edition. The title doesn't sound very exciting and the lack of a subtitle to indicate the range and depth of the book are deceiving. Inside the book's covers, however Ms. Maxwell paints a broad outline of the development of learning assistance from American Revolutionary to modern times. Readers with only a scant background in the history of developmental education will be particularly interested in her history sections comparing England's Oxford tutorial system with the efforts made at Harvard and Princeton to introduce tutoring assistance for all their students, not those who were under prepared. Moreover, from the earliest years of the 20th century, colleges and universities introduced tutoring programs to assist under prepared students. The book is a new edition of one she published fifteen years ago and is designed to update the study and include the many changes that have taken place since she published the earlier edition. Many of the topics covered in that edition have changed names, such at the Scholastic Aptitude Test to the Scholastic Assessment Test, Freshman Year Experience has replaced freshman orientation courses and, of course Supplemental Instruction, is related, she says, to "adjunct skills classes." In addition, changes in student population (namely, in its diversity) have resulted in major changes in how instructors have developed new ways to teach. The book has thirteen chapters dealing with the background for college skills programs, assessment, tutoring services, learning centers, learning styles, successful programs, ESL, reading, math, science, and evaluation. It also has an extensive appendix containing everything from a "List of frequently used tests," to "How to study physics. In other words, the book contains something for everyone in developmental education. It might be considered a one-text substitute for formal graduate training. Besides the richness of information in every chapter and the many surprises that she introduces, one struck me as particularly fascinating. In Chapter 2 she makes some serious charges against required skills courses. She points out that students who take these courses see themselves as "dumb", as do their instructors. Moreover, she argues, "requiring students to take special, unchallenging courses is equivalent to creating an intellectual ghetto for a subgroup of students and instructors." She notes further that voluntary programs are more successful than required studies in retaining students -- something I think we all need to hear. Another equally thought provoking comment is her claim that colleges use multilevel required developmental courses as a way to filter out only the hardiest of the under prepared student. I was fascinated with her account of the "Return of the ‘College-Ready' Student." All the evidence seems to indicate that an upswing has taken place in student ability level and as a result colleges once again have their pick of brighter and better prepared students. Because they do, they are less interested in the developmental student who is being pushed out of the four-year schools back into the community colleges. But even here, schools want to become selective because they too have better prepared students from whom to choose. Although she doesn't say so, coupled with the fact that affirmative action is on the ropes in most states, we are in danger of seeing a resegregation of higher education. A recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education made such claims, particularly in states such as California and Texas, only two of the several that were mentioned as trouble spots. Despite the fact that perhaps only Martha Maxwell has the depth of experience and the range of intellect to write such a "comprehensive" text, this reviewer had problems with several of the early chapters: too much generalizing without supporting documentation or data. This deficiency is particularly striking when you know that Martha Maxwell is one of the most scholarly of all the people in our profession. In addition to her 150 articles, hardly a week goes by when she doesn't offer someone on the DE listserve sources for information he or she is seeking. My impression is that she is a one woman bibliographic service. However, in the first two chapters she frequently uses terms such as "some," "a few," "many," "most," "other," or "others." More precise descriptors coupled with data and identified sources would have been better. This quirk should not discourage anyone from reading the book. It is doubtful that anyone could find a more information rich and comprehensive analysis of developmental education. As a single volume of information it belongs on every developmental educator's desk.