Cal State system sees success in pursuit of higher graduation rates
- Graduation rates across the California State University System — the largest and most diverse public university system in the U.S. — reached record highs with slightly more than one-quarter of students who were freshman four years ago graduating in 2018, according to the Los Angeles Times.
- The announcement marks a milestone in an ongoing $220 million initiative to increase the four- and six-year graduation rates to 40% and 70%, respectively, while closing the achievement gap.
- However, rates among the 23 campuses vary, with the lowest four-year rate at 6%. Systemwide, the graduation gap for underrepresented students of color decreased from 12.2% in 2017 to 10.5% in 2018.
Cal State's Graduation Initiative 2025 employs five strategies to meet those goals:
- Managing enrollment to get students the courses they need.
- Making sure students are comfortable and healthy.
- Improving financial supports.
- Increasing academic supports based on good information.
- Removing "administrative barriers."
The system's six-year graduation rate for freshmen in 2018 (61%) roughly matched the national 2015 rate (60%) reported by the National Center for Education Statistics, which had increased just one percentage point since 2010.
Colleges across the country are seeking to improve their graduation rates as prospective students as well as federal and state officials look more closely at attainment.
To raise its graduation rate from 12% in 2012 to 36.5% in 2017, Texarkana College, a community college in Texas, used a combination of student supports and greater attention to course schedules, EdSurge reported. The result was one of the highest graduation rates among community colleges in Texas.
The University of Texas at Austin is also reporting better graduation rates, with a four-year rate of nearly 70% for the class of 2018, up from 66% the previous year. In 2012, the university committed to achieving a four-year graduation rate of 70%. It attributed the success to the implementation of "student success" programs and new uses of student data. The six-year graduation rate held steady from 2017 to 2018 at around 83%.
In Illinois, a group of 25 public and private, two- and four-year colleges recently announced a plan to help close the graduation gap for disadvantaged students by 2025. They plan to do so by offering financial aid packages that meet the specific needs of low-income students and more clearly mapping out degree paths to ensure on-time completion.
- Los Angeles Times Cal State graduation rates reach record highs and equity gaps narrow