The Florida College System (FCS) continues to strive for excellence even as we outperform our peers in college success. Florida ranks fourth in the nation for completion rates, with 52 percent of students who start at a college completing a college credential within six years. This is well above other large, diverse states such as Texas and California with completion rates of 39 and 30 percent, respectively.

Florida also boasts the most finalists for the Aspen Prize in Community College Excellence, which recognizes the best community colleges in the country based upon completion rates data, workforce outcomes and learning and equity. This year, both Broward College and Indian River State College were awarded Finalists with Distinction. In prior years, Valencia College and Santa Fe College have both won the prestigious award.

Recently, Miami Dade College (MDC) received the renowned 2017 Achieving the Dream’s Leah Meyer Austin Award (LMA), which annually recognizes an institution that has demonstrated outstanding achievement in designing a student focused culture that permeates all levels and structures of the organization.

The above successes and recognitions are a result of innovative strategies that our colleges are implementing to increase college success and provide a high-quality education for our students.


Florida’s 2+2 statewide articulation statute guarantees admission to one of the 12 public state universities for students who graduate with an Associate of Arts (AA) degree or selected Associate in Sciences (AS) degree from an FCS institution. When an FCS student transfers into the State University System (SUS), research has shown that they perform on par with students who begin directly at the university. In fact, college transfers had a mean grade point average (GPA) of 2.94 compared to 3.12 to university students.

Florida’s statewide articulation is a successful path to a high-quality credential. Efficient transfer from the colleges into university is critically important because economically disadvantaged students are more likely to start at a college than a university. Florida ranks above the national average in the percentage of students who transfer to a university, twice the national average rate for students who earn an associate degree before transfer, and among the highest in the nation in terms of students who transfer and earn a bachelor’s degree within six years of starting at the community college.

While transfer is an aspiration for the majority of our students, many of our students desire to graduate from college and enter the workforce. Every Florida College System institution has a graduation rate above the national average. Last year alone we graduated 115,908 students, half of which earned a workforce credential: 35,249 certificates, 14,652 Associate in Science and 7,491 Bachelor’s degrees. The most popular areas were Business, Health Professions, Law Enforcement/ Public Safety, and Engineering Technologies/Engineering-related Fields.

Many of Florida College System students are place-bound because they are balancing work and family responsibilities along with college life. Florida College System institutions will continue to work with state university partners on strategies that facilitate transfer and completion of more students through the development of targeted pathways, joint advising programs and combined technology tools that help students map out their transfer path.

Florida College System: Best Practices  
on Achievement and Articulation


Title: The English Studio  


The English Studio is a one-credit, weekly, guided lab made up of a facilitator and a group of 12 student peers who are also enrolled in various sections of ENC1101. This group workshop is designed to help students navigate course requirements, build critical thinking skills, and complete complex writing and reading assignments. The Studio at Daytona State College (DSC) is based on a contextualized workshop model originally designed for underprepared students at universities and colleges that do not offer traditional developmental education courses. Faculty can volunteer to teach sections in lieu of required service hours. As a result, the college does not incur additional costs and class size can be capped at a maximum of 12 students. Through the English Studio, approximately 500 students each semester access academic support services. The Fall 2016 success rates for these “DevEd” students was at 66 percent. Success rates among students who would have taken up to 16 hours of pre-gateway DevEd courses before the SB1720 reform and are taking the Studio instead are consistent with pre-reform success numbers and rising.

Program Contact: 

Ms. Elizabeth Barnes
Chairperson, Academic Support
Phone: 386-506-3208


Title: Collegiate Academics in Hillsborough Community College   


Hillsborough Community College (HCC) recently partnered with Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) to offer collegiate academies at three area high schools. The foundation of this program is based upon structured, guided pathways early in a student's academic career. Several key factors have been instrumental in the
development of this program, namely: 1) Creating clearly defined enrollment expectations, as well as outlining qualifications of collegiate academy applicants, 2) Providing advising guides for each academic track offered, 3) Providing hands-on advising services for collegiate academy students, 4) Communicating with students regularly through e-mail or telephone, as well as regular face-to-face meetings at least once a term, 5) Offering orientations for non-high school faculty teaching at the academy, and 6) Designating a dual enrollment point person for district communication who coordinates with dual enrollment point people on each college campus location. This spring, 98 students will graduate from the academies with their high school diploma and their Associate of Arts degree. Each academy is enrolling more than 100 new students each fall term, and graduation numbers are expected to increase.

Program Contact: 

Mr. Craig Johnson
Vice President of Academic Affairs
Phone: 813-253-7051


Title: Math at the Root of Success: The Redesign of Gateway Math  


Indian River State College’s (IRSC) Math at the Root of Success (MARS) initiative is a data-informed action research project focused on the redesign of gateway math to improve first attempt course success rates and increase the number of students transitioning to general education math. In 2012, examination of institutional data revealed that MAT1033 was a significant barrier to completion at IRSC. Based on this initial research, a supplemental emporium delivery was introduced for MAT1033, in addition to the traditional lecture format. Since then, analysis of course success and subsequent course success data, input from the math department, and feedback from focus groups of students, faculty, and tutors involved in the program has led IRSC to offer five different deliveries for MAT1033. Discussion of the needs of students on a non-algebra track prompted the math department to introduce the collaborative-learning course MAT1100 for those students. The objectives of the MARS project are increased course success rates in gateway math and increased completion rates as the gateway math barrier is addressed. Early results are promising, and the complete three-year completion data will be available at the end of summer 2017. In 2012-2013, prior to implementation of the MARS project, course success rates for MAT1033 was at 57 percent. In 2015-2016 these numbers increased to 68 percent and course success for MAT1100 rose to 81 percent. Embedded assessments and subsequent course success rates suggest no compromise in learning. 

Program Contact: 

Dr. Rita Lindsay
Department Chair, Mathematics
Phone: 772-226-2534


Title: RISE Math Emporium Delivery Model


The RISE Math Emporium Delivery Model focuses on improving all students’ math success in developmental math and algebra courses. The modular emporium delivery method emphasizes reduced lecture time and increased one-on-one student engagement using adaptive learning software to complement the instructor’s lesson. The emporium delivery method allows students in developmental courses to complete their coursework at their own pace with the ability to carryover modules
to one-credit completion options thus saving students time and money. There have also been fewer third attempts in developmental math courses as students experience a greater self-confidence in their math abilities leading to improved retention and completion rates. The emporium delivery model for algebra courses provides students more personalized assistance as they work through the content in the emporium, which has had a direct impact on student success. This student centered delivery approach has produced success rates as high as 77 percent in MAC 1105 College Algebra classes. Furthermore, students that successfully complete MAT 0028 Developmental Math II and then take MAT 1033 Intermediate Algebra the following semester typically have a success rate of over 80 percent.

Program Contact: 

 Mr. Thom Kieft
Associate Vice President of General Studies
Phone: 352-536-2150


Title: Gateway Math Redesign and Improved Math Advising


Miami Dade College developed several intervention strategies as part of the Gateway Math Redesign and improved advising following implementation of SB1720. To date, almost half of Miami Dade students enroll in programs that do not require algebra proficiency. As a result, improved training to academic advisors became a core focus in order to guide students to mathematics courses most appropriate to their program of study. In the process, Miami Dade redesigned their gateway Intermediate Algebra course. This course now includes more active classroom learning, embedded learning assistants, early-alert and intervention strategies reinforced by academic advisors, dedicated time for active learning, using embedded learning assistants to facilitate mastery, and strengthening the partnership between faculty and academic advisors to intervene early when necessary. Following implementation of the Gateway Math Redesign, pass rates in the non-algebra track gateway math course are around 10 percentage points higher than pass rates in the algebra-track gateway math course (70.9 percent in non-algebra track gateway math vs. 58.7 percent in algebra track gateway math). In the redesigned sections of Intermediate Algebra, pass rates are around 5 percentage points higher than pass rates in non-redesigned sections.

Program Contact: 

Dr. Peter Barbatis
Vice President of Student Services
Phone: 561-868-3142


Title: Leadership Development in Public Safety: Strategies for Student Success   


The Leadership Development in Public Safety (LDPS) Certification Program is a non-credit program offered to individuals working in the public safety field who are seeking advancement or have been recently promoted to a supervisory position. It provides 160 hours of leadership training in the public safety sector, with the opportunity to earn up to nine college credits through the College’s Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) process. The program was created in response to a Polk County Fire Rescue (PCFR) SWOT analysis that revealed the organization suffered from poor recruitment, selection, and retention of employees, combined with the challenge of leadership gaps from a retiring workforce. The LDPS Certification Program has produced excellent results for the College, its partners, and the participants. PCFR now utilizes LDPS as a requirement for promotion, listing it as a Critical Success Factor in its strategic plan. The College is now recognized as a subject matter expert and is currently helping command a school leadership program for the Polk County Sherriff’s Office. The College generates $30,000 in revenue per cohort, and accrued $120,000 in 2016.

Program Contact: 

Ms. Nyrka Riskin
Coordinator, Leadership Development in Public Safety Certification Program
Phone: 863- 297- 1010 ext. 4611


Title: Navigating the College Experience    


Santa Fe College, who began with a strong record of student success, desired to effect greater student persistence through seamless ties between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs. The result of bringing these two areas closer was the implementation of “Navigating the College Experience.” These measures incorporated the introduction of a new Financial Aid website, automatic notifications, and online financial literacy training, as well as the addition of client services coordinator to facilitate services and outreach that hosted 82 financial aid and 40 financial literacy events last year alone. NCE features an early academic warning system that brings to scale proactive advisement and support previously offered only to special cohorts. Strategically timed progress reports are sent out early in the semester. The fall 2014-2015 retention rate for students in NCE sections was 3.6 percent higher than for students in the other sections. First-time-in-college African American students attending between fall 2010 and spring 2014 had a 41.83 percent retention rate, compared with 60.25 percent for the cohort attending between 2011 and 2015 that experienced early academic warning and progressive advisement.

Program Contacts: 

Dr. Rhonda Morris
Director of the Quality Enhancement Plan, Navigating the College Experience
Phone: 352-395-5928


Title: The New Student Experience


The New Student Experience (NSE) at Valencia College focuses on four major areas that provide a consistent, yet adaptive and personal experience for learners’ first
college year: (1) a new student orientation, (2) a redesigned general education course developed to help students identify their purpose and pathway, (3) co-curricular engagement activities and (4) course alignment that establishes intentional connections between the NSE and each student’s program of study. The NSE initiative was designed and budgeted as a five-year, $6 million investment to promote upfront student success. Goals of the program are focused on student purpose, pathway, plan, preparation, personal connection, and place. Specifically, students are instructed to create a personal purpose statement that outlines and articulates their values, goals, interests, and strengths in relation to their aspirations. Students also choose an academic program aligned with their educational/career goals, design an education plan, apply college success skills, demonstrate effective communication skills, and demonstrate awareness of college support systems. Students concurrently enrolled in NSE earned a grade of C or better in Freshman English at rates 9 percent higher and 7 percent higher in Intermediate Algebra than non-enrolled students. Fall to Spring persistence increased 6 percent to 83 percent.

Program Contacts: 

Dr. Stacey Johnson
Campus President, East and Winter Park Campuses
Phone: 407-582-2822