Learning Network Convening 2021


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 movement and our network have been creating positive change.

2021 Convening Recap & Resources

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


Plenary Sessions

Transformation Over Time

Watch Brian Sponsler, Vice President, Policy, Education Commission of the States, welcome the network and explore the impact of the pandemic, our efforts to work for equity, and how to turn our hope for this moment into action. Brian is joined by colleagues across the country who inform and inspire our work.

Speakers Include:

  • Jeremy Anderson, President, Education Commission of the States
  • Nikki Edgecombe, Senior Research Scholar, Community College Research Center
  • Judy Marquez Kiyama, Associate Vice Provost, University of Arizona
  • Rahim Rajan, Deputy Director, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


Panel of Funders

  • Sue Cui, Senior Program Officer, Ascendium Education Group
  • Rebecca Hartzler, Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • William Moses, Managing Director, Kresge Foundation
  • Brian Sponsler, Moderator

Hear from our funders about what they see as the most effective reform initiatives today, how equity factors into our work, and what role the funder community sees in scaling success in developmental education reform.


Scaling Success: What We're Learning from Our Sites

  • Tristan Denley, Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer, University System of Georgia
  • Johanna Duncan Poitier, Senior Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges and the Education Pipeline, State University of New York
  • Stacy Fisher, Senior Director of Strategic Project, California Community Colleges
  • Mike Leach, Director, Center for Student Success Arkansas Community Colleges
  • Thomas Sudkamp, Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, Ohio Department of Higher Education
  • Mari Watanabe, Director of Undergraduate Education Initiatives and Research, City University of New York

This plenary highlights the accomplishments and challenges of the six original SStF Scaling Sites: Ohio Department of Higher Education, The University System of Georgia, State University of New York, City University of New York, Arkansas Department of Higher Education, and California Community Colleges.


Dismantling The Academy’s Version of Redlining: Remedial Education

  • Estela Bensimon, University Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California

This keynote addresses developmental education reform efforts to date and the equity imperatives in challenging the resulting differentiated impacts of those efforts.



Time for Big L Leadership

  • Michael Sorrell, President, Paul Quinn College

Michael Sorrell shares his belief that we have a moral responsibility to step into this moment with courage, using our privileged positions on behalf of students and the higher education institutions that serve them.


Concurrent Sessions

Addressing Differentiated Impact of Current Reforms

  • Judy Marquez Kiyama, Associate Vice Provost, University of Arizona
  • Aisha Lowe, Vice Chancellor, California Community Colleges
  • Maxine Roberts, Director, Strong Start to Finish

This fireside chat discusses how to eradicate persistent outcome gaps as both a moral and practical requirement.



COVID-19 Impacts on Student Postsecondary Transitions, Enrollment and Learning

  • Jennifer Keup, Executive Director, National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition
  • Landon Pirius, Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, Colorado Community College System 
  • Claus von Zastrow, Principal, Education Commission of the States

This session brings together experts on policy, state systems and practitioner response to talk about the unique challenges students will bring with them as a result of the pandemic. 


Faculty Mindsets and Systems Change

  • Tristan Denley, Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer, University System of Georgia
  • Mari Watanabe-Rose, Director of Undergraduate Education Initiatives and Research, City University of New York
  • Thomas Sudkamp, Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, Ohio Department of Higher Education
  • Yoi Tibbetts, Research Director, Motivate Lab
  • Chris Hulleman, Founder and Director, Motivate Lab

Faculty mindsets about students’ capacity to learn play an important role in student success. This session reviews what scaling sites have accomplished, highlights ongoing work, and reviews how this work carries critical implications for equity.


Placement Policy and Practice in the Time of COVID-19

  • Mellynn Baker, Assistant Commissioner for Academic Affairs and Innovation, Board of Regents, State of Louisiana
  • Elizabeth Kopko, Senior Research Associate, CCRC
  • Greg Rathert, System Director of P20 and College Readiness, Minnesota State
  • Sarah Truelsch, Director of Policy Research, City University of New York
  • Sarah Ancel, Moderator, Founder and CEO, Student-Ready Strategies

The use of the multiple measures assessment for placement has been gaining popularity in systems and institutions across the nation, and COVID-19 has fast-tracked the practice at many institutions. Join us for an informative discussion about COVID-19’s continued impact on placement policies and practices.



The Impact of COVID-19 on Data Collection and Use–Our New Reality

  • John Hetts, Visiting Executive, Research and Data, Educational Services and Support, California Community Colleges
  • Lindsey Koch, Research Analyst, Office of Policy & Strategy, Tennessee Board of Regents
  • Jill Lansing, Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director of Education Pipeline Initiative, State University of New York
  • Sue Clery, Moderator, Founding Partner, ASA Research

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed both the way we do things and our students’ environments and needs. This interactive session focuses on both institution- and system-level data collection, best practices and new thinking on how to compare pre-COVID-19 data to current and future years.


Virtual Corequisites: As good as in-person or good enough?

  • Jennifer Miller, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Community College Support, State University of New York
  • Paula Talley, Manager, Professional Learning, Higher Education Strategy, Policy, and Services, Charles A. Dana Center
  • Jessie Walker, Assistant Director, Arkansas Division of Higher Education
  • Linus Yu, Math faculty and Dean of STEM, University of Arkansas
  • Katie Hern, Moderator, English Instructor at Skyline College, Co-Founder of the California Acceleration Project

Research shows that corequiste supports work, but much of the evidence is based on in-person classes, not online classes. Join us for a discussion on how different systems and institutions are implementing virtual corequisites, and how students have been impacted.