Strong Start to Finish Announces New Sites

By Julie Adams

This month, Strong Start to Finish (SStF) announced the selection of our four emerging sites: the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE), the Louisiana Board of Regents (LA BOR), the Michigan Center for Student Success (MCSS), and the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR). These sites are state systems and associations implementing developmental education reforms that focus on placement, acceleration and/or alignment. The announcement of these sites represents an exciting milestone for SStF, as this is the third time the initiative has provided funding to systems or associations since it launched in 2018. It also demonstrates our efforts to continue the momentum of developmental education reform.  

As SStF’s Site Strategist, this announcement also marks the beginning of my journey supporting these sites. I will be working closely with each emerging site to support their developmental education reform efforts and match them with technical assistance providers. These sites have exciting plans for using their SStF funds and I am eager to support them by providing coaching for their work. Here is snapshot into some of the work they will be doing over the next three years: 

  • CDHE will evaluate the multiple measures and self-guided placement practices across their 13 community colleges to identify best practices. They will also increase the capacity for corequisite courses at three of their four-year Hispanic Serving Institutions. 
  • LA BOR will develop professional learning opportunities for faculty across their 28 public institutions to improve the effectiveness of their corequisite courses. 
  • MCSS will develop a community of practice for institutions implementing guided self-placement. They will also create professional learning sessions for faculty at their 31 tribal and community colleges focused on corequisites and math pathways. 
  • TBR will award three of their institutions with grants to support innovative practices in developmental education reform. They will also create corequisite-focused communities of practice for faculty and advisors at all 13 of their state’s community colleges. 

These plans are part of what SStF asked prospective sites to describe in their application process, along with their goals for expanding their ongoing developmental education reform work. Each site’s proposed plan included a nuanced approach to meet the needs of their unique system, and an unwavering commitment to student success. While the details of their plans differ, they all focus on reform efforts that can enable more students who are racially minoritized, students who have low incomes, and students who are returning adults to complete credit-earning courses in their first year of college. These plans also build on years-long efforts at the sites to develop policies and practices, at both the system- and institution-level. 

Reading each site’s proposal was inspiring and brought me hope for what our higher education systems can do to help students thrive. As our emerging sites turn their proposals into action, there will be many updates and lessons learned to share with our SStF community. I am thrilled to accompany them on their journey, and I invite you to follow along to see what these sites accomplish!