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CONTACT: Shouping Hu, FSU College of Education
(850) 644-6721;
April 2017


Three years after the developmental education redesign legislation known as Senate Bill 1720 (SB 1720) was passed in Florida, researchers at the Center for Postsecondary Success (CPS) continue to study the impact of the legislation on students and colleges. SB 1720, implemented in 2014, provided many students in the Florida College System the option to bypass developmental education and immediately enter college gateway courses.

Funded by the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the CPS team uses three main sources of data to continue its study: interviews conducted during campus visits, student-level data for students across all the colleges, and surveys of college administrators. The CPS researchers now have rich information on the early student outcomes and institutional implementation for public dissemination through publications and presentations.

Recent research findings are published in the Community College Journal of Research and Practice, Innovative Higher Education, The Journal of Higher Education, and Teachers College Record. CPS researchers will also discuss their research during five presentations at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX on April 27th through May 1st, 2017.

Recent Publications

The following are articles recently published in academic journals:

• “Examining First-Time-in-College Student Enrollment Patterns and Performance in Select Courses Following Developmental Education Redesign in Florida” (Teachers College Record)
• “Comprehensive Developmental Education Reform in Florida: A Policy Implementation Typology” (The Journal of Higher Education)
• “Academic Advising, Remedial Courses, and Legislative Mandates: An Exploration of Academic Advising in Florida Community Colleges with Optional Developmental Education” (Innovative Higher Education)
• “Scaffolding Mathematics Remediation for Academically At-Risk Students Following Developmental Education Reform in Florida” (Community College Journal of Research and Practice)

2017 AERA Annual Meeting Presentations

CPS researchers will present the following papers at the 2017 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting.

• “High School Coursework and Success in Gateway Courses in College” – Chenoa S. Woods, et al.
• “Can Making Developmental Educational Optional Close the Racial/Ethnic Achievement Gap in Gateway Course Success?” – Toby Park, et al.
• “The Role of Networked Improvement Communities in Helping Community College Students Transition to College-level Coursework” – Rebecca Brower, et al.
• “Administrators’ Perceptions of the Second Year of Developmental Education Reform in the Florida College System” – Keith Richard, et al.

CPS researchers will complete their AERA participation with a roundtable discussion, “Developmental education reform for the public good: Contrasting theoretical perspectives,” led by Tamara Bertrand Jones. See the full schedule of FSU presentations here.

Next Steps

As the early findings from the CPS research show, there are some promising signs but also some worrisome signals for student postsecondary success since SB 1720 became law. The research to date indicates that some students seem to benefit from the option to go directly to the gateway courses, but we should continue to examine whether such an early benefit will translate into eventual attainment of degrees. The feedback from the field indicates that institutions make necessary changes on the ground to support student success; however, there is tremendous financial pressure on institutions, as SB 1720 is essentially an unfunded mandate. The funding mechanism in the state could exacerbate the financial situation for the colleges due to the changing dynamics of student enrollment in developmental and gateway courses.

As CPS director Shouping Hu has written, “Given the nature of the reform and the multiplicity of issues, strong and sustainable leadership at both the state and campus level is required in order for the reform to stand a chance of delivering results.” The institutions in the Florida College System seem to adapt to the needs on the ground by making changes and initiating innovations inside and outside of the classroom. Institutions need support to continue to build sustainable capacity to provide quality instruction, advising, and support services to help students succeed in postsecondary education. The CPS team will continue to analyze student data to examine student success over time, document the changes in institutional programs and practices, and study the interrelations among state policy change, institutional transformation, and student success in postsecondary education.

The Center for Postsecondary Success (CPS) is a research center at Florida State University dedicated to identifying and evaluating institutional, state, and federal policies and programs that may serve to improve student success. One way the Center does this is by providing support for, and fostering collaboration among, those who are interested in conducting research on student success in postsecondary education. For more information, please visit CPS website at


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