SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Dear Colleagues,

I have friends who are runners.  And my understanding is that pace is an important part of any race.  Careful attention is paid to setting it, maintaining it, and knowing when to break it. 

During this pandemic, with every innovator seeking to take advantage of the disruption, I am sure it has been hard to set a pace -- let alone maintain this cadence while the constant cries are for you to break it. We understand and feel much the same.

So, we have tried throughout the disruption to reduce confusion and maintain our pace to support yours. We hope you have found our content via Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook helpful to you — featuring others in similarly situated roles on Mondays, our focus on the quantitative evidence every Wednesday, and our highlight of partners and systems of higher education undertaking reforms on Fridays.
We strive to be a safe and reliable space of support as you maintain reforms that began years ago or are just starting out.  We see you.  We appreciate you.  And we look forward to being here for you, every day.
Take care of yourself and others while you track along at what is surely a pace that challenges you to be better today than you were yesterday. And, if you ever need something, please give me a call.


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

For the next six months, we will highlight one of the six new 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.
This month, we begin with Strong Start Arkansas, where system leaders have a goal of increasing corequisite courses to reach 50,000 students per year by 2021. Strong Start Arkansas became a Scaling Site in 2018 and officially launched their work in spring of 2019. Among the early lessons and findings:

  • Project leaders recognize that designing technical assistance so that it considers the varying needs of institutions is crucial. They are conducting surveys of the institutions to help design the next phase of professional development activities.
  • Developmental education reform work that was achieved prior to Strong Start Arkansas has provided a foundation for the current work, in particular with faculty engagement and buy-in that will be critical moving forward. 
  • Different institutions need different types of support in reform implementation. This has been especially true in the case of English faculty.

You can read the full case study and more in our Resource Library.

With reforms to developmental education becoming ever more present, how has it happened?  The “how” question is something we have focused on from the beginning. 

We developed the Steps to Success series to document the change process, inclusive of outcomes that are finely disaggregated by race/ethnicity, low-income and adult students, and lessons learned.   Later this month we will publish a new paper focused on reforms within the University System of Georgia.  If you are new to Strong Start to Finish, please take time to read prior papers focused on:
  • how to implement college redesign programs and the Tennessee SAILS program in Increasing Math Success;
  • how the Texas Success Center established and deployed a strategy to support the staged implementation of the holistic reforms across 50 community colleges in All are Welcome;
  • how Maryland community college and university leaders have implemented a new, shortened statistics pathway as a math option for six community colleges and four universities in Prioritizing Success for All Students;
  • how San Diego Mesa College set out to eliminate the developmental English pipeline to allow students to self-place into the gateway course or the gateway course with support, whichever they deem appropriate in Dramatic Changes for Dramatic Results;
  • how legislation has led to significant systemwide changes in advising as part of Florida’s developmental education reform in Advising for Student Success;
  • how LaGuardia Community College responded to a long-standing crisis in the math remediation approach to bring transformative change to scale via the math co-requisite project in Co-requisite Mathematics Models and Gateway Completion; and
  • how all students at the University of Cincinnati are seeing greater success with a new approach to mathematics that places all students directly into credit math courses while simultaneously implementing a corequisite model in five mathematics courses (College Algebra, Precalculus, Calculus, Calculus II, Applied Calculus) and revising a quantitative reasoning course which would now integrate corequisite course content (Foundations of Quantitative Reasoning) in A New Approach for Mathematics.

While developmental education reform has much to do with changing the way we teach mathematics and English and the courses that students take, it is part of broader systemic changes that require the support of other members of the campus community. That is why we have partners in our network are not solely focused on developmental education.  For example:

The Association for Institutional Research is a membership-based organization that empowers higher education professionals to leverage data, analytics, information, and evidence to make decisions and take actions that benefit students and institutions and improve higher education.  They are your colleagues who run the data for multiple measures algorithms, finely disaggregate data to better understand outcomes, and inform the continual improvement of courses – including the critical courses we focus on.  Developmental education reforms simply cannot advance without the leadership provided by research professionals on your campus.  Like you, we have a profound appreciation for them, and therefore are pleased they are a partner in our collective work to reshape structures and recalibrate practices.

Recent Webinars:

In the short term, the Strong Start to Finish team is not traveling, as scheduled events have been cancelled in an abundance of caution.  You can still find us via email, on webinars, and in the press.

Recent Webinars:
  • Miller, J. & Moeckel, D. (2020, August 17). SUNY: Strong Start to Finish placement project.  [Webinar]. Presentation to the Strong Start to Finish Scaling Site Project Leads and invited systems. 
  • Barnett, E. & Kopko, E. (2020, August 17). Evaluation of multiple measures placement system using data analytics. [Webinar]. Presentation to the Strong Start to Finish Scaling Site Project Leads and invited systems. 
Upcoming Webinars
  • Intentionally Online by the National Resource Center for the First Year Experience on October 5, 2020
  • SSTF Partner-led Research on Developmental Education on November 2, 2020.
For these and additional upcoming events from systems and partners, visit our Events page:

Recent Press & Media:
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