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Dear Colleagues,

Colleges and universities are preparing for a fall semester unlike any in recent history. At Strong Start to Finish, this semester will also start a new chapter— this will be the first semester in which developmental education reform efforts are underway in all 13 systems engaged in our important collective efforts. The significance of this growing footprint cannot be overstated. Nearly 5 million undergraduate students will be impacted by the work underway from California to New York, from Louisiana to Minnesota.

But the measure of any initiative cannot just rest in growth. We must also see tangible results and improvements. Specific to this initiative, we want to know: Are more students passing first-year English and math courses? 

I am pleased to share with you the first six case studies in our Learning from the Reform publication series, documenting the results to date of reforms underway from the six systems that make up the first phase of the Strong Start to Finish initiative: Arkansas Community Colleges and the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, California Community Colleges (spearheaded by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office and the Foundation for California Community Colleges), City University of New York, the Ohio Department of Education, State University of New York, and the University System of Georgia


 

SSTF began its work in early 2018 with four initial systems, known as Scaling Sites, in early 2018 – CUNY, Ohio, SUNY and USG. Subsequently we added California and Arkansas. These case studies show that, while much work remains to be done, progress is happening.

Early results show that by undertaking reforms such as streamlining or eliminating developmental education, implementing pathways for students and revising placement policies SSTF Scaling Site institutions are doubling the percentage of students completing critical college courses in half the time.

The data provided in these studies also serve as a baseline against which the progress of the grant may be made. For the cohort starting in the fall of 2018, 46% completed a gateway math & English course in their first year of study.

Completion rates were 42% for low-income students and 40% for adult students. When examined by a student’s race or ethnicity, completion rates varied for students who identified as American Indian or Alaskan Native (41%); Asian (54%); Black (36%); Hispanic (43%); Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (42%); Unknown, Two or more races or Non-resident Alien (46%); or White (47%).

Our hope in sharing these case studies is that they serve as a resource for your system, your institution, the courses you teach, the way students in your system are advised, and more. As we embark on what will no doubt be a challenging semester, let these be an inspiration to keep doing the good work that students depend on to succeed.

I hope you will take the time to learn more about each project by visiting the Resource Library!


Sincerely,




Christopher M. Mullin, Ph.D.
Director, Strong Start to Finish
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