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

February 2019


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. ¾ A new report by Florida State University’s Center for Postsecondary Success has found increased student success and improved equity in the educational progress of students in the Florida College System since an educational reform bill passed five years ago.

“Our findings indicate that the redesign has contributed to the increase of the overall success for all students and has also helped narrow the educational gaps for students from different racial and ethnical backgrounds,” said lead author and center director, Shouping Hu. “In essence, it led to greater success for all and narrower success gaps, which is a highly desirable outcome from a social policy perspective.”

Florida implemented a comprehensive developmental education redesign among college system institutions in fall 2014 following the passage of Senate Bill 1720. FSU researchers have been closely following student outcomes since the implementation.

The changes gave a majority of students in the Florida College System the freedom to opt out of developmental education, stipulated that developmental education courses use new instructional strategies and required institutions to provide enhanced advising and support services.

The report, “Increasing Momentum for Student Success: Developmental Education Redesign and Student Progress in Florida,” presents findings about key student progress on measures for six cohorts of full-time-in-college students from fall 2011 to fall 2016 in the 28 Florida College System institutions.

Because the policy change allows certain students to opt out of developmental education FSU researchers said it is important to differentiate two types of passing rates in college-level courses. Course-based passing rates measures the success of students enrolled in those types of courses, and cohort-based passing rates measure the performance of a specific cohort.

“While course-based passing rates are important for advising, academic support, curricular design and instruction, cohort-based passing rates more accurately capture the overall impacts of the developmental education reform as a whole,” Hu said.

Key findings from the study include:

  • Enrollment rates in developmental reading, writing and math declined sharply following the reform.
  • Passing rates in developmental education courses remained relatively constant.
  • Enrollment rates in introductory college-level courses increased following the reform, most notably in math courses.
  • Course-based passing rates in English remained relatively stable over time, while course-based passing rates in intermediate algebra declined.
  • Cohort-based passing rates in English and math courses increased following the reform from a cohort-by-cohort comparative perspective.
  • Cohort-based passing rates for black and Hispanic students increased at greater rates than white students.
  • Total first-year credit hours attempted and earned increased for all students following the reform.
  • Black and Hispanic students experienced greater gains in college-level credits attempted and earned following the reform, compared to white students.

The Center for Postsecondary Success research team plans to release a set of policy briefs in the next few months based on its years of study on the Florida developmental education redesign so that policymakers, practitioners and researchers can continue to learn from the reform.



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 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.



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