Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


William P. Kelly

Subject Categories

Algebra | Community College Leadership | Curriculum and Instruction | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Leadership | Higher Education | Higher Education Administration | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Urban Education


developmental education, CUNY, developmental math, remedial education, remedial math


Nationwide, there is a crisis in math learning and math achievement at all levels of education. Upwards of 80% of students who enter the City University of New York’s community colleges from New York City’s Department of Education high schools fail to meet college level math proficiencies and as a result, are funneled into the system’s remedial math system. Once placed into pre-college remedial arithmetic, pre-algebra, and elementary algebra courses, students fail at alarming rates and research indicates that students’ failure in remedial math has negative ripple effects on their persistence and degree completion. CUNY is not alone in facing and tackling these remedial math issues and the associated outcomes; however, the CUNY system is uniquely positioned by way of resources, scale, and national spotlight to improve and expand its successful remedial reforms. This thesis examines the national remedial math issue, and then delves more deeply into the remedial math situation at CUNY and one of its community colleges, LaGuardia Community College. Utilizing both the university and LaGuardia as case studies, the author interviews key CUNY faculty, administrators, researchers, and policy makers who specialize in math remedial issues, to paint a multi-dimensional picture of CUNY’s efforts to address the remedial math “wall.” This thesis concludes with policy considerations and recommendations to CUNY leadership on how to consider lessons learned both nationally and at home.