Schools like Lewis and Clark Community College (LCCC) are perfect examples of how better student success programs can have an overwhelmingly positive effect on both students and the institution. In just three semesters, LCCC was able to save $700,000 and improve their retention rate by 17 points. Here’s how they did it.

Using Data to Identify At-Risk Students

Thanks to Blackboard Analytics, the student success team at LCCC was able to determine what factors influence a student’s likelihood to transfer. This allowed them to more accurately identify at-risk students and make informed decisions, rather than simply relying on their assumptions. They were able to see what factors correlated with a higher rate of attrition and what didn’t.

With this insight, LCCC identified a series of attributes that contributed to student risk levels. The list included common indicators such as GPA, number of credit hours, gender, ethnicity, and enrollment type. However, the most significant discovery was how the criteria correlated to determine risk. LCCC determined that students who met four of five risk attributes were at an even greater risk. This information helped LCCC to create a hierarchy of at-risk students comprised of full at-risk profiles informed by data.

Building a Student Success Strategy Around Results

Through the identification of at-risk students with reliable data, LCCC was able to build their retention strategy around student retention programs that would have the highest impact. They were able to make informed decisions and create policies that carefully considered the needs of their at-risk student body. For example, after discovering that GPA and online success were linked, they created a policy that required students to achieve a GPA over 2.7 before taking online classes. This small change closed a 10 percent achievement gap and improved the overall online success rate.

The use of data also helped LCCC to understand which student success programs that were already in place were the most effective, so they would know where to concentrate their efforts. For example, LCCC confirmed the positive impact of their current Student Success Center program. Retention rates for students involved in the program were 15-17 percentage points higher than average. Having this knowledge led the school to adopt a new intrusive advising model.

Creating a Campus-Wide Culture of Student Engagement

Despite their early success with data-driven student retention programming, Lewis and Clark doesn’t consider their initiative complete. Instead, they approach improving student retention as a continuous effort involving the entire campus community. The importance of data collection is embraced across the institution as a whole – from educators, to researchers, to the administrative level.

While Blackboard Analytics has certainly made data collection more accessible, technology alone isn’t enough to address large institutional challenges. Rather, it takes the commitment of the campus as a whole, with the right people and the right vision leading the charge toward change.

Lewis and Clark Community College is certainly a great example of what successful student success programs look like, their story doesn’t have to be unique. With the right data-driven approach and campus support, more institutions could attain similar positive changes to their budget as well as retention and graduation rates. It’s simply a matter of getting started.

For more on how your institution can unlock the secret to student success, check out our free eBook and start your journey to improvement today.

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