Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Chicago State in the National News

Here's a story from the USA Today that uses the measure of six-year graduation rate for full-time first-year freshmen and mentions Chicago State in an unflattering way.

Obama's college plan has potential genius: Column
Michael Dannenberg 3 p.m. EDT September 22, 2013
A rating system could help minorities and students from low-income backgrounds choose the right school.
Story Highlights
• Among the indicators on which the president wants to rate colleges is graduation rate.
• Many colleges are dispelling the myth that student characteristics effectively determine graduation rates.
• Obama's college affordability proposal could be the beginning of a civil rights in higher education plan.
President Obama's college affordability plan has been eclipsed by the diplomatic showdown over Syria and now talk of a government shutdown, but it will be back this fall when, hopefully, its true benefit will get an airing.
The plan sounds like an appeal to the middle class, but it could prove more a boon to minorities and students from low-income families. And therein lies a long-term impact that could be bigger than either of the stories dominating the news.
Currently, selective colleges compete based on prestige and amenities such as free Wi-Fi and the best gym facilities. The president's plan would instead aim to spur competition based on value as reflected in price and effectiveness. Most pay attention to the first part of that equation — tuition and fee price — but the value in the Obama plan lies in measuring and rewarding the second: effectiveness.
Among the indicators of effectiveness on which the president wants to rate colleges is the graduation rate of first-time, full-time students. Not a bad idea, given that the graduation rate averages less than 60% at four-year schools. And that's just the average. When Education Secretary Arne Duncan implements the Obama plan, he should be sure to break out the graduation rate and other measures of effectiveness by race and income. Then we can hold colleges accountable for results, forcing them to pay attention not just to diversity in admissions but also the performance and graduation rates of poor and minority students, for whom average disparities are enormous.
Fewer than two in five African-American bachelor's students and only half of Latinos will earn a degree in six years, compared with nearly two-thirds of whites.
Syracuse vs. Hofstra
Many in the higher education community argue these disparities are nobody's fault but the students', that it's unfair to hold colleges accountable for the performance of these students. Somehow, it's inevitable that certain groups of students will achieve at vastly lower rates than their whiter, richer peers.
But a close examination of the data reveals that many colleges are dispelling the myth that student characteristics effectively determine graduation rates. These schools graduate low-income students and students of color at significantly higher rates than other institutions serving similar demographic mixes. The president's plan could highlight those colleges where education works for everyone, drive students toward them with added funds and encourage other schools to replicate effective practices.
Compare Syracuse and Hofstra universities — two midsize, non-profit private colleges in New York with a median SAT score of about 1,175. Underrepresented minorities make up 17% of Syracuse's undergraduates and 18% of Hofstra's. About 25% of Syracuse's freshmen class are Pell Grant recipients, compared with 24% of Hofstra's.
Despite these similarities, Syracuse has a six-year graduation rate that is 22 percentage pointshigher than Hofstra's (80.2% vs. 57.9%). Fewer than half of Hofstra's black students (49%) will graduate in the same time that nearly three-quarters of black students at Syracuse (74%) will complete a degree.
How do Hofstra's administrators explain that? What are they doing about it? The Obama plan could prod them in the right direction and reward them for improvement.
Albany vs. Chicago State
The differences are nationwide. Consider two institutions at the other end of the selectivity spectrum: Albany State University in Georgia and Chicago State. At both institutions, nine out of 10 students are black and more than eight in 10 are low-income. Median SAT scores and high school GPAs are similar.
The similarities stop there. Four in 10 Albany State students graduate within six years, compared with only two in 10 Chicago State students.
Think about that. There's an 80% dropout rate at Chicago State, and the institution receives "competitively" awarded funds from the U.S. Department of Education.
In elementary and secondary education, the consensus view is that all children can learn to high standards and that students, teachers, schools, parents and peers all play critical roles in determining student success. In higher education, though, too many seem to think graduation is simply a matter of student ability and maybe financial aid, absolving colleges of responsibility to provide a good education to all the students they enroll. That's wrong.
Demography is not destiny in K-12 or higher education. With a few important additions, for the plan is not complete, President Obama's college affordability proposal could be the beginning of a civil rights in higher education plan. Let's hope he and others follow through.
Michael Dannenberg is the director of Higher Education Policy at The Education Trust.

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  1. We should be ashamed of our graduation rates and our plummeting enrollment. I would, however, reserve judgment about the comparison between CSU and Albany State until more comparative data are available and analyzed. There may be some significant extra-institutional factors that explain part of Albany's success. My guess, however, is that it has to do with the nature of our political climate and how dirty politics has taken over our institution.

    Can we get a fact-finding mission to Albany State? We could speak with students, faculty, staff and administrators and find out why they are more successful. I bet they have qualified people with the requisite expertise in key decision-making positions.

  2. How many of our students even take the SAT? Albany is a rural community and Chicago is about as urbanized as it gets. There is a difference in being poor in the country and poor in the city. I would also like to see that statistics on how many Albany State students are single mothers as compared with our University.