Interesting Reads This Week

So much good to focus on

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Sometimes we need some good news. Conveniently, this week most of what I read about EdTech was positive. And I feel the need to share.

Retention is the mother of success

If you haven't seen it already, you should take a look at the latest report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center on persistence and retention.

The persistence rate is measured by the percentage of students who return to college at any institution for their second year, while the retention rate represents the percentage of students who return to the same institution.

Persistence and retention rates are up for the second straight year, and the retention rate across all modes of attendance and all institutions is now higher than it has been at any point since 2013.

Community colleges have seen some of the biggest gains in persistence and retention.

I take particular joy in this fact, not only because community colleges educate so many of the most vulnerable members of our society, but also because retention can, at times, be a bad sign. David Joyner from the Online Masters in Computer Science program at Georgia Tech has commented that high retention rates (alongside low acceptance rates) may be a sign that programs aren't giving enough people a chance – they are stacking the odds in favor of people who are, in a sense, destined to succeed.

This is not true of community colleges, which are by nature open access – everyone can get in. This makes improved persistence and retention rates in that sector especially gratifying. The slopes on those graphs are gentle, but they do slope upwards, and it would be interesting to probe why that is.

This is especially important given what I usually write about in this space: the challenges institutions face with declining enrollments. Too often, so much attention is paid to getting students in the door, and not enough to keep them there.

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