Our Network Connects to Listen and Learn

We regularly bring together site leaders, research partners, experts in the field and SStF staff to reflect on how the developmental education reform movement and our network have been creating positive change.


2023 Learning Network Convening 


Embarking on a New Chapter  

During the 2023 Learning Network Convening (LNC), nearly 100 Strong Start to Finish network members came together as the initiative began a new phase. The event brought the perspectives of equity and system leaders, educators, researchers and technical assistance providers to the developmental education reform conversation. This year’s event also featured an in-person panel of three students who discussed how corequisite mathematics and English courses impacted more than just academic outcomes. The students explained how they self-enrolled in corequisites, the integral role advising played and how the classroom environment created a space for them to share individual experiences and center cultural practices. 

Keynote Address

Speaker and Panelists: Dr. Susana Muñoz, Kristina LaFave, Naol Mamo and Wausaumoutouike Sandman-Shelifoe

This year’s keynote identified how deficit thinking embedded in our norms and expectations perpetuates inequities in higher education more broadly and, therefore, can show up in corequisite courses and other DE reform efforts. The session also included a panel discussion with three students who took corequisite courses at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College and Century College.

Plenary 1: Site Reflections 


Speakers: Dr. Judy Marquez-Kiyama, Alma Kanic Franco, Aisha Lowe, Mari Watanabe-Rose, Tom Sudkamp 

During this plenary session, Strong Start to Finish Equity Consultant, Judy Marquez Kiyama, facilitated a conversation with former SStF Scaling Sites about the work they engaged in, their lessons learned and how they’re continuing to further equitable developmental education reform efforts.

Day One Breakout Sessions: Developmental Education Reform in Action – Part I  


Data and Equity Priorities 

Facilitators: Afi Wiggins and Antony Maikuri 

1336 Strongstarttofinish Minn 10july2023 (1)Strong Start to Finish Monitoring, Learning and Evaluation Specialist, Antony Maikuri, and Managing Director of the Charles A. Dana Center, Afi Wiggins, led an interactive session that reviewed the fundamental principles of improvement science and explored how the application of these principles can advance equity. The presentation also discussed the application of improvement science to building equity data teams and equity-related continuous improvement processes informed by students’ experiences along with designing timelines and processes for improving the educational outcomes of students. 


Faculty Development 

Facilitators: Judy Marquez Kiyama  

1359 Strongstarttofinish Minn 10july2023Strong Start to Finish Equity Consultant, Dr. Judy Marquez Kiyama, led this interactive workshop, which emphasized the instrumental role faculty play in supporting success, sense of belonging and opportunities for students, especially within developmental education reform efforts. Capacity building for faculty is a key component in these efforts, and the session focused on creating faculty development initiatives that are guided by asset-based, culturally responsive frameworks and institutionalized in strategic and collaborative ways.  


Guided Self-Placement  

Facilitators: Jamey Gallagher and Kris Messer 

1452 Strongstarttofinish Minn 10july2023 (1)Assistant Professors from the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), Jamey Gallagher and Kris Messer, designed this interactive workshop that taught the audience how to overcome institutional barriers related to placement and student success. Throughout the session, the facilitators shared examples of how changes in placement encouraged them to think differently about student perspectives, and how student perspectives encouraged additional student support changes before, during and after the course placement process. The professors also presented findings from developmental education reform at CCBC, including the shift to self-directed placement, which helped attendees think toward interventions at their own institutions.


Plenary 2: Foundations for Equity 

Speakers: Vanessa Keadle, Dr. Drew Koch, Dr. Joyce Morley and Molly Sarubbi

During this plenary session, SStF’s Network Strategist, Molly Sarubbi, facilitated a discussion that analyzed how Strong Start to Finish’s Network partners prioritize equity in their organizations and apply it to services. The panelists also delved into how their organizations bring awareness to these topics in the field, along with the importance of students’ perspectives and experiences.  

Day Two Concurrent Sessions: Developmental Education Reform in Action – Part II 


Centering Student Voices 

Facilitators: Lynn Brabender and Yoi Tibbets  

2250 Strongstarttofinish Minn 11july2023 (1)Lynn Brabender, director of student success and service provision with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and Yoi Tibbets, research director with Motivate Lab, discussed the ongoing Student Voices Initiative. Specifically, the workshop highlighted ways to authentically integrate student voice into systemic change efforts, along with barriers and potential solutions to engaging in this work. 




Facilitators: Victoria Ballerini, Brandon Protas, Sarah Truelsch 

2798 Strongstarttofinish Minn 11july2023This session, facilitated by Strong Start to Finish (SStF) Associate Director, Victoria Ballerini, Complete College America (CCA) Assistant Vice President, Brandon Protas, and Assistant Dean for Policy Research at City University of New York (CUNY), Sarah Truelsch, discussed developmental education reform policy changes at the system and state levels. The speakers presented an overview of SStF’s upcoming State & System Policy Framework for developmental education reform, guidelines for policymakers from CCA and how CUNY operationalized these recommendations for content and process during its reform journey.  


Shortened Academic Terms 

Facilitator: Paula Talley  

2156 Strongstarttofinish Minn 11july2023

Paula Talley, executive director of program development with Achieving the Dream, led this interactive workshop explaining how shortened academic terms can better serve today’s learners. While an increasing number of colleges are adopting the academic term format, this type of complex, organization-wide change, coupled with other reform efforts, requires adjustments to processes and behaviors in almost every department and change leadership knowledge and skills to ensure shared success. 


Social Justice and Mathematics  

Facilitators: Ann Edwards 

2805 Strongstarttofinish Minn 11july2023WestEd/Carnegie Math Pathways Director of Mathematics, Ann Edwards, taught attendees how integrating social justice teachings into courses can help make decisions for a better society during this session. Using a guide written by and for college mathematics educators to help them effectively integrate elements of social justice in their mathematics instruction, the presentation offered strategies and resources to help create equitable and just learning environments that support students to explore important social topics through mathematics productively. 


2023 LNC Resources

Our bank of resources includes a number of valuable reports and toolkits developed by members of the Strong Start to Finish network, many of whom presented at the 2023 Learning Network Convening. These resources take a deep dive into developmental education reform and corequisite supports. In addition, we share links to articles that address racial equity in theory and practice. We hope you take some time to explore these resources.

2022 Highlights

Celebrating Our Work and the Promise of Developmental Education Reform

We invited a group of members from across our network to gather in person for our 2022 LNC. Attendees heard from educators, researchers and technical assistance providers about their experiences and work in the field. We shared SStF’s successes to date with a report from our evaluator, and brainstormed together about how to advance the work in the field.

2022 recap and resources

2021 Highlights

Transformation Over Time

In Spring 2021, nearly 150 members of our network gathered virtually to listen and learn together. See our 2021 highlights page to watch videos and download resources to help you and your colleagues ensure every college student gets a strong start.

2021 recap and resources