This policy applies to developmental education programs within the UW System.


UW System faculty and staff are actively engaged in responding to the rapidly changing evidence-based thinking around developmental education. This policy is intended to guide UW institutions to develop programs that reflect the current state of the art in developmental education. This policy aims to provide guidance for the UW System universities to respond to the changing educational landscape around developmental education practices.

Developmental education practices, assessments, and policies determine student readiness for postsecondary education and placement into university-level coursework. UW System institutions use an array of processes and measures to identify a student’s readiness including test scores or other demonstrations of university readiness to determine placement into university-level coursework or development education programs.


The goal of developmental education is to improve students’ skills to increase their chances of success in a credit-bearing, college-level program. Developmental education programs and courses are designed to develop the reading, writing or math skills of students who are deemed —usually through standardized tests — underprepared for college-level courses. This policy adopts the following definition related to development education as supported by the Educational Commission of the States and the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness.

Developmental Education: Developmental education aims to teach students knowledge they should have learned before enrolling in a postsecondary program. Developmental education is not adult basic education.

Rather than select only one approach to developmental education, UW System institutions are encouraged to adopt effective, evidence-based practices in developmental education. UW System Administration shall provide guidance to institutions related to effective developmental education strategies. These strategies may include, but are not limited to, the development of assessment and placement processes, strategies to accelerate students’ progress into college-level courses, interventions involving sustained wraparound supports, providing coherent paths through developmental requirements, development of funding models to sustain development education models, and integration of developmental education reforms with other university student success and curricular reforms as endorsed by the Education Commission of the States. Subject matter experts from the UW institutions should be involved in the development of metrics used to assess developmental education.

UW System Administration shall continue efforts to cooperate with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to develop standards for high school English and mathematics skills that will ensure Wisconsin students are adequately prepared for college-level work.

Each institution shall provide information, as requested by the President of the UW System, describing the institution’s developmental education efforts. UW System Administration shall collect data and prepare an annual report to meet the legislative reporting requirements of s. 36.65 (5)(b)(1), Wis. Stats. Once every three years, UW System Administration shall also develop and present a report to the UW System Board of Regents describing the scope and effectiveness of UW System’s developmental education programs.

Non-credit developmental education courses shall be offered on a fee recovery basis.


UW System Administration’s Office of Academic and Student Success shall provide oversight and guidance to institutions and shall identify system-wide strategies for UW institutions to follow to meet the requirements of this policy. Further, the Office of Academic and Student Success shall identify and request data from UW institutions that will aid in describing and evaluating UW System’s developmental education programs. The Office shall compile the Remedial Course Report, as required under s. 36.65(5)(b)1, Wis. Stats.

Each UW institution is responsible for identifying, implementing, documenting, and evaluating the effectiveness of its developmental education programs and courses and for ensuring that each UW System student has access to these services, as appropriate and needed. UW institutions shall provide data regarding its developmental education programs, as requested by UW System Administration.


  • Regent Policy Document 7-3, “University of Wisconsin Freshman Admissions Policy”
  • Section 36.65 (5) (b) 1 and 36.65 (5) (b) 2, Wis. Stats., “Remedial Course Reports”


History: Res. 5088, adopted 11/11/1988, created Regent Policy Document 88-16.  Res. 5957 and Res. 5958, adopted 11/08/1991, amended RPD 88-16, subsequently renumbered RPD 4-8. Res. 11563, adopted 12/10/2020, rescinded and replaced RPD 4-8.

See Also:

SYS 805: Tuition and Fee Policies for Credit Instruction (formerly F44)

[UW System Administrative policies are included for reference and are separate from Regent Policy Documents adopted by the Board.]