CSUMB Magazine

President's Letter - Winter/Spring 2019

President Eduardo M. Ochoa

Published Feb. 2, 2019

To succeed in any great endeavor, you need to get off to a good start.

So, as the CSU has examined ways to improve graduation rates through our Graduation Initiative 2025, one area of focus has been on the first-year experience.

Traditionally, incoming CSU freshmen who scored low on math and English placement tests have been placed in no-credit developmental courses. So, in effect, they began their college careers a step or two behind classmates, who earn credit in their first-year math and English classes. Research now shows that students in the developmental classes are up to 20 percent less likely to graduate than their peers. This year, the CSU is trying a new approach, dropping the developmental courses and embedding more academic support in first-year classes to keep students from falling behind.

Cal State Monterey Bay has long been a leader in innovative approaches to developmental programs in math. Judith Canner, CSUMB associate professor of math and statistics, has played a pivotal role in the CSU-wide effort to devise a better plan to help students get up to speed in math.

At CSUMB, our introductory math courses now feature an additional one-unit class, which is available to students who need more support. We have also moved away from reliance on placement tests, instead using a wider variety of measures, including high school GPA and a student’s own perception of his or her math readiness to help determine who needs the additional class.

Dr. Canner was one of 26 faculty members from around the CSU to receive a 2018 Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award, which recognizes faculty leaders who have implemented innovative practices that significantly improve student success.

Overall, the CSU’s Graduation Initiative 2025 is making great progress in enhancing graduation and retention rates. Graduation rates for first-time freshmen and transfer students are at all-time highs, and equity gaps between students from historically underserved communities and other students have narrowed.

Much of that progress is directly attributable to faculty members like Dr. Canner who continue to look for the best ways to help our students succeed.


Eduardo M. Ochoa, President