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CONTACT: Shouping Hu, FSU College of Education

(850) 644-6721;

July 24, 2018


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A report by researchers at Florida State University’s Center for Postsecondary Success found the leaders at the Florida College System (FCS) institutions are using student outcome data to improve student outcomes and institutional performance, but feel frustrated with the limited resources available and slow improvement in institutional performance.

The report, “Exploring Institutional Change: Administrators’ Perceptions of the Fourth Year of Developmental Education Reform in the Florida College System,” focuses on how institutional leaders use student outcome data, respond to increase accountability pressure, and improve institutional performance. The report is based on a survey of senior-level administrators conducted in the spring of 2018.

The survey findings indicate that institutions are paying attention to student outcome data and review the data regularly. However, data access and review are typically conducted by upper-level academic leadership, while positions that work directly with students tend to be less frequently involved in this process and have less access to data. Only 5 percent or fewer of respondents indicated that advising staff, or tutoring or success center staff are greatly involved in this process.

The most common types of changes in response to reviewing data on student outcomes were changing pedagogy for developmental education courses (63 percent of institutions) and implementing early alert systems (58 percent of institutions).

Institutions also utilize statewide accountability metrics to track their own performance but less frequently to compare institutional performance to similar FCS institutions. Ninety-five percent of respondents reported monitoring their own data “moderately” or “to a great extent”, compared to only 58 percent for monitoring data from other comparable institutions.

Leaders who rated their institutional performance lower expressed frustration that student outcomes did not seem to be improving despite making significant changes to academic and support services. Common challenges to improving student outcomes included problems finding resources to implement solutions, a lack of understanding about the underlying problems, and difficulties identifying effective solutions.

Despite these challenges, several institutions were identified as “leaders” among their peers in improving student outcomes under the reform. Common practices used by these institutions included innovative pathways for meta-majors, effective use of data, and re-engineering of advising programs.

“Increasing institutional performance is a process that takes resources, dedications, and comprehensive strategies over time,” said Shouping Hu, director of CPS and the Louis W. and Elizabeth N. Bender Endowed Professor of Higher Education. Hu is the lead researcher of the project.

The full report is available here.

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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