UM System Expands Academic Tracking Platform To Boost Retention And Graduation Rates

Jul 8, 2014
Originally published on July 8, 2014 4:29 pm

The University of Missouri is expanding an early alert system that tracks academic performance to all four of its campuses this fall.

The system, developed by the company Starfish Retention Solutions, is designed to improve retention and graduation rates by better connecting students, faculty and staff.  

The expansion follows the success of a pilot program at the university's Columbia campus that gives advisors real-time grading information on students and tracks performance trends among classes and subjects. 

According to the University of Missouri-St. Louis' Dean of Enrollment, Alan Byrd, the program will allow staff to more closely track cohorts of students.

“If they notice a large group of students isn’t doing well in a certain class or with a certain topic, then they can do something to address it as a group as opposed to just sending out individual alerts that students aren’t doing well,” Byrd said.

The online program is also designed to help faculty, staff and students more quickly address academic issues of individual students, said the UM System’s Chief Communications Officer John Fougere.

“We can identify if a student is having academic issues, issues adjusting to college life going forward,” he said.

“While these technological advances are a key part of this program, really the technological advances of the program will allow our advisors on our four campuses to have more time for the personal one-on-one time with students.”

According to Fougere, the four-campus rollout this fall is part of its Comprehensive Retention Initiative, which aims to boost retention and graduation rates system-wide. The $1.9 million initiative is funded by an annual per-credit-hour student fee.

The UM system’s student retention rate for first-year students is currently about 82 percent, he said. 59 percent of students graduate within six years of enrollment.

The University’s target is reaching an 83 percent retention rate for first year students and a 64 percent graduation rate within six years, said Fougere.

Missouri is one of many states that have implemented a performance-based funding model for its public universities and colleges.

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