Skip to main content

Core Principles

Strong Start to Finish works to amplify a set of evidence-based Core Principles.

In November 2015, a group of national organizations that work with higher education institutions serving millions of students released a set of Core Principles for Transforming Remediation within a Comprehensive Student Success Strategy.

The contributing organizations include: 

Achieving the Dream   The Charles A. Dana Center   Complete College America   Education Commission of the States   Jobs for the Future   American Association of Community Colleges

The Core Principles were developed in response to ineffective practices for helping students master remedial (pre-college level) content. Roughly 40 percent of all undergraduates and two-thirds of community college students take at least one remedial course and only one-quarter of those students graduate within eight years. Colleges and states across the nation are beginning to see dramatic improvements in student success by implementing reforms consistent with the Core Principles.

Download the principles or learn more about each one below.

Principle 1

Identify academic direction and supports.

Every student’s postsecondary education begins with an intake process to choose an academic direction and identify the support needed to pass relevant credit-bearing gateway courses in the first year.

Learn more

Principle 2

Enroll in college-level math and English.

Enrollment in college-level math and English courses or course sequences aligned with the student’s program of study is the default placement for the vast majority of students.

Learn more

Principle 3

Provide supports.

Academic and nonacademic support is provided in conjunction with gateway courses in the student’s academic or career area of interest through co-requisite or other models with evidence of success in which supports are embedded in curricula and instructional strategies.

Learn more

Principle 4

Streamline remediation options.

Students for whom the default college-level course placement is not appropriate, even with additional mandatory support, are enrolled in rigorous, streamlined remediation options that align with the knowledge and skills required for success in gateway courses in their academic or career area of interest.

Learn more

Principle 5

Align courses with programs of study.

Every student is engaged with content of required gateway courses that is aligned with his or her academic program of study—especially in math.

Learn more

Principle 6

Use data effectively.

Every student is supported to stay on track to a college credential, from intake forward, through the institution’s use of effective mechanisms to generate, share and act on academic performance and progression data.

Learn more

Work Collaboratively.

Postsecondary leaders are increasingly working collaboratively with those who prepare their entering students, including K-12 education systems, workforce programs and Adult Basic Education providers.

Implement at Scale.

This joint statement is a commitment from our organizations to work closely with state, system and institutional leaders to support implementation of the principles.