Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

March 14, 2013

Commission calls for closing college ‘achievement gap’

Large percentage of students dropping out of college.

(Continued)

Indianapolis —

Under Lubbers, the commission has stepped up pressure on the state’s colleges and universities to increase their graduation rates. Lubbers’ lead the commission’s push for performance-based funding for the state’s colleges and universities, tying more of the state dollars allocated by the Indiana General Assembly to graduation rates and other metrics.

Getting minority students to graduation is a challenge for colleges and universities across the U.S. They often face a multitude of economic and social challenges, and many are first members of their family to go to college.

But it’s doable. Before passing the resolution, the commission heard about what some other states are doing to close the achievement gap.

Florida State University, for example, has implemented programs that offer more intensive intervention by faculty and staff with at-risk students to help keep those students on track. Over a decade, the university raised its on-time graduation rate for all students to 74 percent, while raising the graduation rate for African-American students to 77 percent and to 70 percent for Hispanic students.

Here in Indiana, an effort targeting minority students at Indiana State University in Terre Haute is showing early signs of success since it was launched three years ago. The effort includes a pre-college summer program to help minority students prepare for the rigors of college, plus multiple levels of support from faculty, staff, and fellow students.

Joshua Taylor, ISU’s interim associate vice president for student success, said the retention rate for minority students – students who stayed in college rather than dropping out – went up by 8.5 percentage points in year’s time. 

Taylor said the issues involved in keeping minority students in college are complex, but targeting resources to help them and other students at risk of dropping out seem to be paying off.

“We’ve seen an enormous step forward in closing our achievement gap,” Taylor said.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Kokomo Tribune eEdition, or our print edition

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