AUGUST 12, 2020
Dear Colleagues,

I sat there, in my apartment, side aching.  Earlier in the day I had been kicked by a student while stepping between a fight in my 7th grade math class. Over the next 24 hours, my experience with administrators and nascent research into school policies set me on a new career path.  I became enamored with policy and how it could provide a choice set to establish the environment within which I taught. 

To my surprise, there was more support for me as a teacher than was ever articulated to me by a union, by a colleague or by my formal education. The same is true now for each of you as it was then for me.

More than a decade of policymaking has taught me the delicate balance between the intent of putting “the good” into a policy or using policy to remove “the bad.” In the end, intent – good or bad – comes down to how you implement the policy. As your institution pushes ahead with reforms, I encourage you to engage deeply and with an open mind.  

You just may find that the “new” approach empowers you to do so much more than you ever thought possible. 


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

In the Spring of 2018, after a competitive selection process, four systems of higher education were supported to implement developmental education reform efforts at scale –- the goal being to increase the number and proportion of students completing both college-level (gateway) math and English courses in the student’s first year of study.  The data provided herein therefore 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%).

Later this month we will release reports for each system. After the release, you may learn more about each project by visiting our Resource Library.

Did You Know?
Strong Start to Finish has created 112 Points of Interest!  Each one is a single piece of evidence – a proof point – showing that reforms taking place across the country are helping more students be more successful, in a shorter duration than if we did nothing.
A few favorites:
  • Impactful Reforms (June 6, 2018). This Points of Interest from Strong Start to Finish illustrates how successful reforms at four institutions also reduce instructional costs. 
  • Improving Adult Students’ Success (February 20, 2019). This Points of Interest illustrates that co-requisite remediation models benefit adult, low-income and minority students and improves student credit hour attainment.
  • Using Multiple Measures (December 18, 2019).  This Points of Interest shows that over half of community colleges now use multiple measures to assess students’ college readiness in math.

Find your favorite in our Resource Library!  Better yet, contact Vilan Odekar and write one for us!

Our Solution Network of partners is a place where we can all learn from each other to improve the experience of those situated in systems and institutions.  Recently we received some anonymous feedback, and here are a couple quotes from partners:

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.
  • Gardner, J. N., Koch, A. K., & Williams, F. T. (2020, July 20). Redesigning unjust systems to advance equitable attainment in developmental & college credit-bearing courses [Webinar]. Presentation to the Strong Start to Finish Scaling & Strategy Site Project Leads and invited systems.  
Upcoming Webinars

For these and additional upcoming events from systems and partners, visit our Events page:
  • Charles A. Dana Center. (2020, August 12) Corequisites in a virtual environment: Assessing student learning (Webinar Series). Austin, TX: The Charles A. Dana Center. Register here.
  • Charles A. Dana Center. (2020, August 13) Corequisites in a virtual environment: Assessing student learning (Webinar Series). Austin, TX: The Charles A. Dana Center. Register here.

Recent Press:
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