Strong Start to Finish Selects ACUE as Service Partner

Start to Finish (SSTF) announced this week a number of Research & Service Partners, including the Association of College and Strong Start to Finish social mediaUniversity Educators (ACUE). Collectively, SSTF and its network partners are committed to helping higher education institutions and systems advance developmental education reforms. The announcement was shared through the SSTF office Twitter feed @_Strong_Start.

SSTF is a network of committed postsecondary leaders and philanthropists, working together to change institutional practice and policy across the nation to bring equity to education. The collaborative initiative believes the single most impactful way to help students finish college and achieve a degree is to help them get a strong start by completing college-level math and English in their first year of study.

ACUE’s mission is student success through quality instruction. Research published by ACUE, its partners, and third-party evaluators collectively demonstrates the impact implementing evidence-based teaching practices can have on developmental education reforms and closing equity gaps.

• At Cal State LA, ACUE-credentialed faculty transformed development mathematics and, as a result, achieved annual 25% increases in completion rates 2016-18 and eliminated the achievement gap between Pell-eligible and other students. Data provided by Cal State LA.

• At Northern Arizona University (NAU), ACUE-credentialed faculty led the transformation of a gateway biology course, formerly a “weed out” class and, as a result, DFW rates dropped by half. Data provided by NAU.

• At City College of San Francisco (CCSF), average grades improved across 150 classes, enrolling more than 4,500 students, taught by ACUE-credentialed faculty. The project was funded by CCSF’s Office of Student Equity, and thus recruitment of faculty focused on courses with achievement gaps for students at risk of dropping out.

• At Texas Woman’s University, ACUE-credentialed faculty closed the course completion gap for African American students in 113 classes with 1,800 students.

• At Rutgers University-Newark, students were significantly more likely to earn an A, B, or C in courses taught by ACUE-credentialed faculty, compared to matched faculty. The findings from Rutgers University–Newark, among the most diverse universities in the country according to U.S. News & World Report, suggest that effective instruction is an important factor for achieving greater equity. The study was conducted in conjunction with the Center for Advanced Study of Education (CASE) at The Graduate Center at City University of New York.

“Students are more engaged, complete courses at a higher rates, more equitably with their peers, when faculty are prepared to be highly-effective teachers,” said Susan Cates, CEO of ACUE. “We’re excited to collaborate with Strong Start to Finish to further arm faculty with the evidence-based teaching practices they need to reform developmental education in ways that bring equity and success to all first-year college students.”

Strong Start to Finish (SSTF) has Scaling Sites across the U.S., including in Arkansas, California, Georgia, New York and Ohio. In total, SSTF’s work impacts an estimated 3.7 million students across 250 institutions.

The initiative of the Education Commission of the States (ECS) received initial funds in 2017 and a more recent round of $5.35 million in October 2019— from Ascendium Education Group, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Kresge Foundation. The latest funds are earmarked to spur equity-centered research, practice, and policy invention and innovation, address emerging challenges at currently supported systems, and to provide targeted technical and strategic assistance to systems preparing to implement developmental education reforms at scale.

In concert with its most recent funding, SSTF launched a Seeding Site grant program which provides targeted technical and strategic assistance to support ongoing efforts of systems preparing to implement developmental education reforms at scale.

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