Congratulations to Georgia State University. In a release today, Education Trust announced that GSU boosted its minority graduation rate by 18.4 percentage points.
In 2002, only 32.3 percent of minority students graduated in six years. By 2007, that rate had increased to 50.7 percent—which exceeds the school’s non-minority graduation rate of 45.5 percent. The university ranks fifth nationwide in the number of bachelor’s degrees granted to African-American students, according to Diverse magazine.
According to the release:
At Georgia State, for example, minority students now graduate at rates higher than their nonminority classmates, putting them atop the list of best improvers in each of the two Ed Trust briefs. According to Ron Henry, the school’s former provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, these gains came first and foremost by focusing on data. Henry and his colleagues used data to identify various potholes on the path to a bachelor’s degree for GSU students, from high failure rates in introductory courses to high dropout rates between the sophomore and junior years, when students transition into courses for their majors.
Although GSU took a campuswide approach to improving outcomes for all students, when administrators disaggregated the data, they found that some programs were particularly effective for minority students. For example, first-year learning communities—where faculty members coordinate teaching two or more courses and often serve as advisers to the same group of students—were instrumental in improving retention rates between the freshman and sophomore years by five to six percentage points for all students. But for minority students, these rates rose by ten to 12 percentage points.
“Georgia State’s example demonstrates that public institutions can strive for access and success simultaneously. Institutions should see these as twin goals, not an either-or proposition,” said Jennifer Engle, assistant director of higher education at The Education Trust and coauthor of the briefs. “To reach President Obama’s goal of regaining the global lead in educated adults by 2020, graduating more students—especially from fast-growing minority groups—must be a national priority.”