A DFW rate is the rate at which students receive D-grades, F-grades, or Withdrawals in courses. Some Colleges and Universities are now using this data in regards to budget and performance reviews. More now than ever are these rates something to be looked at, and unfortunately, these rates are on the rise.
Although there are many reasons students withdraw from courses, faculty members can really only control their side of the story. One way to help students is to assess their knowledge of the required information at the very beginning of the semester or start of a course. This allows for the faculty member to get a feel for which students may need more dedicated attention and which students will be fine on their own. This pre-test of sorts can also help gauge which portions of the curriculum they need to spend more time on and which they can just touch lightly on.
While there is no perfect solution, taking the time to understand the knowledge level of students in a particular class, can make learning easier for everyone.