5 Reasons Why You Should Review the New Strong Start to Finish Service Menu

By Dr. Josclynn Brandon, Director of Equity Projects at Student-Ready Strategies

There are problems of inequitable outcomes within developmental education. These problems include low success rates in gateway courses in the first year, inaccurate placement approaches, long sequences of remedial courses, and the lack of alignment between coursework and program requirements just to name a few. These challenges persist, particularly for students from low-income backgrounds, racially minoritized students and returning adults. Strong Start to Finish (SStF), along with its 13 network partners, acknowledges the pressing need for transformative change in developmental education. Through SStF’s comprehensive service menu, it is committed to addressing these issues by supporting state and institutional leaders, and most importantly, practitioners, as they work to create a brighter future for all students.  

To more clearly communicate the services offered to support this need for transformation, SStF recently released its updated service menu. The service menu will help select the appropriate services for the institution(s) and postsecondary systems. Designed with a diverse audience in mind, including state and institutional leaders, practitioners, faculty members, administrators and intermediaries, this comprehensive menu offers tailored support options to address the unique needs of each stakeholder group. Here are five reasons you should spend some time reviewing the service menu. 

1) It provides effortless decision-making. The service menu is a one-stop, comprehensive guide that identifies relevant services and streamlines decision-making. Whether you’re an intermediary helping connect institutions to service providers, a faculty member looking for assistance with your curriculum, or an administrator making decisions, the menu easily identifies and describes the services that align with each institution’s unique needs. The menu layout guarantees less time is spent searching and more time implementing effective strategies. 

2) It includes multiple service modalities. SStF recognizes the diverse needs and preferences of institutions, requiring flexibility in how services are delivered. To accommodate these varying needs, delivery of support can be done through three different modalities including in-person, virtual or a combination of both. This flexibility of service modality provides access to support that best suits unique circumstances. By accommodating different delivery methods, the menu caters to diverse preferences and constraints, ensuring effective leverage of available resources to drive meaningful change.  

3) It allows you to select one or multiple service approaches. Institutions seeking tailored support benefit from providers who can develop customized services most appropriate for the institutions. SStF service providers offer technical assistance, consultation and professional development. These offers are defined as:  

  • Technical assistance service provides practical solutions to implement, optimize or troubleshoot complex systems or processes. This service includes completing tasks essential to projects or initiatives, and shouldering the project’s mental load. 
  • Consultative services offer expert guidance, recommendations and solutions to address specific organizational challenges or opportunities. Consultative services focus on helping identify organizational needs to move work forward. Unlike technical assistance, consulting primarily focuses on providing strategic advice and direction without direct hands-on assistance in execution. 
  • Professional development services impart knowledge, skills and competencies to individuals or groups, with an emphasis on teaching them how to perform certain tasks or functions effectively. Professional development focuses on education and skill-building without direct involvement in the practical implementation of those skills.   

All three service approaches are offered by providers to confirm that faculty, staff and administrators receive the support needed to help students succeed. Often, these approaches are combined into one scope of work. 

4) It ensures equity is at the forefront. Emphasizing equity in developmental education reform, the menu incorporates services that seamlessly integrate equity into every aspect of the work. Each service is designed to promote equitable student outcomes by integrating equity considerations. From inclusive instructional practices to culturally responsive support services, the menu features a range of options that empower institutions to create more inclusive learning environments. By prioritizing equity, disparities can be addressed and ensure that all students have access to the resources and support needed to succeed. 

5) It allows for service customization. As evidenced above, institutions and systems can select from multiple categories or modalities, approaches. However, institutions and systems can also customize timeframes and desired deliverables. Service providers work closely with an intermediary, system or institution to meet specific institutional needs and challenges. This service customization allows for deliverables that support institutional goals.  

By exploring the diverse range of services offered by providers in the Strong Start to Finish network, the approach to reform can be simplified and unlock new opportunities for improving developmental education outcomes. Whether seeking tailored support, flexible delivery options or equity-focused solutions, the menu provides the resources and guidance needed to drive positive change. Visit the menu today to discover how SStF can support your developmental education initiatives and help students succeed.