I’m really tired of hearing the same old crap about 2011 whenever the previous administration’s enrollment failures are discussed. The people making that claim obviously are unaware that a number of the Chicago State faculty were trained in excellent graduate programs and are quite capable of data analysis. In that light, let’s take a look at yesterday’s claim and subject it to some critical inquiry.
The Tribune story of July 25, 2011, on the financial aid scandal reported that the university administration claimed it had “recently dismissed 47 students from that group as part of its new enforcement of the policy.” In making the claim that our drop in graduation rate stems solely from this group of expelled students, the administration is obviously assuming a 100 percent graduation rate in that cohort, clearly a contrived and idiotic assumption. Even with a 100 percent graduation rate for those 47 students, the overall 2009 cohort graduation rate only reaches 19 percent (112 out of 589 students).
If we remove the 47 students from the graduation rate calculation, the result is 65 graduates out of a cohort of 542, or 12 percent. Just for argument, let’s calculate the rate based on the best graduation rate achieved here in the last several years: 21 percent. That results in a yield of 10 graduates out of that population of 47 student. That raises the 2009 cohort’s graduation rate to 12.7 percent (75 out of 589).
Since we know the statistical performance of previous cohorts, we can apply this statistical model to any number we like. Let’s say the university expelled 20 percent of the 589 students in their purported attempt to increase “rigor.” That’s 118 students. A 21 percent yield for 118 students would add 25 students to the graduation totals, bringing that number fo 90 graduates out of a population of 589, or 15.3 percent.
We know that 212 students returned for their third year in 2011-12. Hell, let’s say all 377 of the students no longer enrolled were expelled because the university was so diligent in policing their scholarship. At a 21 percent yield, 79 students would be added to the 2015 graduates, bringing the total to 144 out of 589, or 24.4 percent. That’s absolutely the best we could achieve.
So the range could possibly be between the existing 11 percent and the fantasy world of 24.4 percent. Fortunately, there’s a way to come up with some kind of viable projection: looking at the actual data. A sample of 44 University College students matriculating in 2009 gives us a snapshot. Here’s the description of the University College from our Undergraduate Catalog:
The University College
The University College (UC) program provides access to Chicago State University for entering freshmen who do not meet the regular admissions criteria. Students participate in a specialized
curriculum designed to assist them in acquiring the knowledge and skills essential to their academic success.
I think it safe to assume that the highest risk students in the university come in as part of this cohort. In 2009, all 44 in this sample matriculated as first-time full-time students. Here’s how they did. 3 students, or 6.8 percent graduated within six years. Only 4, or 9.1 percent were “dropped for poor scholarship” in Spring 2011, the sacred semester in the administration narrative. An additional 4 students, or 9.1 percent were “dropped for poor scholarship” in subsequent semesters. 6 students, or 13.6 percent left school after only 1 semester, another 10 or 22.7 percent left school after only one year. Thus, 16 of the 44 students, or 36.4 percent, lasted only one year.
Based on this sample of our most at-risk students, it seems highly unlikely that the actual number of first-time students expelled in Spring 2011 would exceed 54. Based on the previous statistical calculations, that population yields 11 possible additional graduates at 21 percent. Bringing the fantasy total to 76 out of 589, or 12.9 percent.
So there it is. We have a number of figures from which to choose. We can stay with the reality of the reported 11 percent graduation rate. Or we can escape to various fanciful permutations. We have 12 percent, 12.7 percent, 12.9 percent, 15.3 percent, or the fantastic 24.4 percent. Even the trip through Wonderland becomes unsatisfying when we consider that almost all of the possibilities are still a dreadful performance by our high-salaried Watson cronies in Enrollment Management.