UPDATE 9: KPIs and Equity

This is the ninth in a series of emails about student success work in the Capital-East Region and in Connecticut overall, including the implementation of Guided Pathways. In this issue, we’ll review the Student Success Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and focus on equity.
Previous emails are available online.


CSCU Student Success Key Performance Indicators: 2019 Report

The second annual CSCU Student Success Key Performance Indicators report for 2019 is available. View Report (pdf).

This report, as well as additional graphical statistics on Key Performance Indicators, can be found online at www.ct.edu/kpi.
You are receiving this Student Success KPI report as we continue to explore how successful our community college students were last year at your college, in your region, and across Connecticut.
As the Board of Regents has determined, you can expect to receive this Student Success KPI report annually in the fall.



In this issue, we’re departing from our usual format to bring you the following essay on equity from two of our community college faculty members.

We encourage you to review page 17 of the Student Success KPI document (pdf), which disaggregates data based on race/ethnicity, as you read this essay.


As the CSCU Guided Pathways and other committees incorporated by the CSCU work to establish paths to success for our students, no path to success is complete without considering the power of equity.

Equity is not diversity. Equity is not equality. Equity provides students with the necessary resources to achieve their educational goals, regardless of when they begin their educational journeys or the obstacles they might encounter. Equity in education demands placing support systems in line to guarantee all our students have an opportunity to succeed and thrive.

The open admission policy of our community colleges allows the people of our state access to pursue their dreams of a college education. Yet, college attendance is more than admission. We trumpet our campuses’ enrollment numbers at the start of a new semester, as well we should. The students’ experiences of the onboarding process are possible because of our dedicated and talented colleagues.

However, we need to continue the momentum that begins in the admission phase. To celebrate enrollment numbers over all other compelling data is akin to celebrating at the start of a marathon when the race has only begun. The admission process merely begins what can and should be a continuum of student success practices that leads to sustained retention and steadily increasing graduation rates.

Beyond the initial phases of a college education, too many students on our campuses struggle to succeed from one semester to the next. This prevailing persistence gap negatively impacts the success and college completion rate of students from nearly every demographic sector, but especially students of color.  

According to the CSCU KPIs for 2018 cohorts1, 19% of White students earned 24 or more college-level credits after their first year, while only 10% of Latinx and 7% of Black students earned the same credits during their first year. The numbers are more disappointing when considering that a mere 17% of Latinx students and 12% of Black students passed college-level math and college-level English in their first year. Latinx and Black students are not progressing through the gateway courses that mark a significant entre to the rest of one’s college career and ultimately, completion of a credential of value—an abysmal fact for one of the richest states in the nation.

Students who do not persist in our colleges face challenges that can have a lifelong impact. A student who decides to drop out of college is likely to only secure lower-income jobs that will not pay enough to cover general living expenses nor repay the financial aid debt on loans for which they will likely default.2 Lack of education exacerbates income gaps in our communities. In addition, our small state is financially segregated, with Whites earning far more than people of color.  Connecticut residents who identify as Latinx or Black earn on average $35,000 less per year than White residents.3 The imperative is clear: equity is critical to the lives of our students, our colleges, and our state. 

If we fail to engage in difficult yet important conversations regarding the obstacles and barriers faced by our students, if we fail to create spaces and opportunities to help students prevail over systems of historic oppression and other societal and institutional barriers, then we have strayed far from the CSCU mission of providing individuals with a way to achieve personal and career goals. 

CSCU is committed to closing the opportunity gaps attributable to existing institutional and social inequities. We are committed to negating the narrative that students are not prepared and that their failure is their responsibility. We are committed to revitalizing the existing systems to make it hospitable for students to flourish so that they can be engaged in their own liberation and success in higher education. 

We will work with the Student Success Center in the coming weeks to ensure that our plans address equity and that equity is at the center of our work here at CSCU. The work will not be easy, nor will results be immediately realized. We should all strive to ensure that personal and social circumstances do not prevent students from accomplishing their academic, personal, and career goals.

There is no doubt that a well-rounded education benefits the citizenry of our state, indeed, our sense of humanity. Equally important is the opportunity for our students to earn a college degree or credential that can result in a sustainable income. Access to higher education means access to higher salaries, which benefit families, communities, and the state of Connecticut. Income changes lives. It did for us. It did for our parents. And it should matter to all of us. 

Kerry L. Beckford, M.A., M.F.A.
Associate Professor of English
Tunxis Community College
Member, Guided Pathways Task Force

Dr. Josiah Ricardo, MSW, MBA, Ed.D. 
Professor of Sociology
Capital Community College 
Member, Guided Pathways Task Force

1 "System Student Success Key Performance Indicators (KPI) by Race/Ethnicity" p. 17

2 Pelman, Nitzan and Geoff Watson.  “The Forgotten Students: Understanding the Student Completion Crisis in Higher Ed and New Approaches to Solving It.” p. 3. https://bit.ly/2oC3pLW

3Connecticut Median income: White: $80,277; Black/African American: $45,972; Hispanic: $44,153. U.S. Census 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates Subject Tables. 



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In Our Next Issue:

In CSCU Student Success Update #10, which we’ll email in November, we’ll provide updates on the work groups of the Guided Pathways Task Force.

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