Students First: Cal State East Bay Working to Increase Graduation Rates
The university is seeking input on measures it could employ to help students graduate
At a recent town hall on the Cal State East Bay Concord campus, Provost Edward Inch listened as students shared the challenges they face when trying to graduate in four, or even six years.
One mentioned the availability of classes, another a need for more advisors. Still another spoke about the cost of tuition plus books and other supplies.
The forum, one of several held at the Hayward and Concord campuses since January, was initiated by Dr. Inch, so that he could receive input from faculty, staff and students on measures Cal State East Bay might employ to help students graduate. The overall effort, which is being implemented at all 23 CSU campuses, is called Graduation Initiative 2025, and it provides funding to create programs and services geared toward improving graduation rates for the system’s 475,000 students.
According to Linda Dobb, associate provost, Cal State East Bay’s goal is for students to have access to the courses, services and support they need to graduate, with an overall goal of improving the four-year graduation rate from 10 percent to 35 percent, and the six-year rate from 45 percent to 62 percent. For transfer students, the goal is to increase the two-year graduation rate from 37 percent to 49 percent, and the four-year rate from 73 percent to 83 percent.
In addition, the university is working to eliminate the “achievement gap,” a term that refers to the educational disparity between groups of students, particularly those defined by socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity and gender. Cal State East Bay’s current achievement gap is 14 percent.
So far in 2017, to align with the Graduation 2025 Initiative, Cal State East Bay’s own Student Success Initiative will focus on seven key areas:
- Improving access to high-needs sections: Each college has been asked to provide a list of courses that traditionally have long wait lists but are vital to graduate. Approximately $100,000 has been spent to provide additional sections of those courses to make sure that students have access and can complete their programs of study.
- Increased tutoring, supplemental instruction and advising: During the winter quarter, the university added 13 supplemental instruction sections, five tutors for science and increased its emphasis on advising. Similarly, for the spring quarter, additional sections and support services are being offered.
- Reducing costs: Since many students at Cal State East Bay balance work, families and school, one of the key factors in keeping students at the university is cost. As a result, the university is increasing the number of textbook and Writing Skills Test vouchers available, and in summer 2017 will offer $1,000 scholarships to students who, by taking summer work, could graduate.
- Creating new outreach programs: The university has designed four new programs to increase its reach in offering students services to help support them both financially and academically. In addition, Cal State East Bay recently partnered with the top four feeder community colleges (Chabot, Diablo Valley, Ohlone and Las Positas) to pilot a program that pairs underserved, nontraditional community college students with a university transfer ambassador who will serve as a mentor.
- Communication: Through events like the town hall forums and a website called “The Pioneer Path to Student Success,” which outlines the initiative, Cal State East Bay’s Academic Affairs hopes to keep faculty and students aware of the steps being taken to help in helping more students graduate in a timely manner.
- Setting goals for colleges, majors and programs: Dr. Inch and the college deans are working to create goals and align resources to improve passing rates and to cut achievement gaps.
- Reexamining metrics and creating dashboards for 2025 goals: The Office of the Provost has divided its metrics into sections including Demand Trends (such as growth/reduction trends), Resource Utilization (such as space utilization) and Effectiveness (such as graduation rates and retention) to assist in the CSU-wide Graduation Initiative 2025.
To learn more about Cal State East Bay’s Student Success Initiative, visit the Academic Affairs website.