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Project Title:Use of Data to Support Student SuccessInstitution Name:California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) Innovation Category:Student Success Project Director:Van Novack, Assistant Vice President for Institutional ResearchContact Information:(562) 985-8386, vnovack@csulb.eduWebsite:http://daf.csulb.edu/offices/univ_svcs/institutionalresearch/degree_init/task_force5.html
Project Description:CSULB is committed to using data to guide decision making and program improvement related to student success. The university has developed a highly useful set of interactive reports that display retention and graduation rates and achievement gaps. These reports can track first-time freshmen and transfer students from the semester of entry to completion up to eight years later. They can also track first-time underrepresented minority students over the same time period. A key innovation is tracking of students who begin as freshmen from the point in time when they attain upper division, declared major standing; this method eliminates student changing of majors from college and department retention and graduation rates. The campus is using this method to assign graduation rate improvement goals to colleges and to identify departments for improvement. The campus has also developed a plethora of additional reports useful for identifying students who need extra advising to stay on track and who need coaching to avoid probation, as examples.  
Objectives:
  • Use data for improvements that support student success
  • Hold the university, colleges, and departments accountable for closing achievement gaps and raising success rates 
Outcomes:
  • We have measured gains in university graduation rates to 54% (2010) from below 30% (1996).
  • We have measured gains in first-year retention.
  • We see a dramatic increase in use of student data by the academic division and academic colleges.
  • We see an increase in use of student data by academic departments.
  • Eventually we hope to measure graduation rate gains in lowest-performing colleges and departments.
  • Eventually we hope to measure reductions in achievement gaps in lowest-performing colleges and departments. 
Challenges/Problems Encountered:There are significant technical challenges that require institutional research expertise. Adequately funding the Institutional Research Office is an ongoing challenge. Communicating the significance of data to nontechnical users is an ongoing challenge. Fostering college and departmental use of data is a challenge. 
Evaluation Approach:One aspect of evaluation is interest in and use of the data; the provost has agreed to give each of the deans a graduation rate improvement goal, demonstrating a commitment to use of data and galvanizing the interest of the deans. More critical assessment will involve improvement in retention and graduation rates, which are being carefully tracked. 
Potential for Replication:This information resource approach is replicable with appropriate technical expertise and funding. Such resources probably are within reach of any mid-size or large campus. CSULB has created these resources despite very significant budget problems in the past few years. A very small campus unable to create the technical expertise would be challenged to implement this approach. 
CEO-to-CEO Contact:F. King Alexander , Presidentfkalexander@csulb.edu
(562) 985-4121
Date Published: Wednesday, March 30, 2011