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Graduation Rates Earn SDSU National Praise

SDSU was identified by The Education Trust as a model for improving graduation rates.
SDSU is one of eight universities recognized by The Education Trust as a model for improving graduation rates, especially among students of color and low-income students. Graphic: The Education Trust.
SDSU is one of eight universities recognized by The Education Trust as a model for improving graduation rates, especially among students of color and low-income students. Graphic: The Education Trust.

For more than a decade San Diego State University has been tackling one of education’s biggest problems — the achievement gap. And now SDSU has been identified by The Education Trust for the second time as a model for improving graduation rates, especially among students of color and low-income students.

"We are honored to receive this national recognition for our focus on academic achievement and degree completion," said SDSU President Elliot Hirshman. "This recognition is a tribute to the creativity, dedication and perseverance  of our faculty, staff,  students and administrators."

Improving graduation rates

In the report, Learning from High-Performing and Fast-Gaining Institutions, The Education Trust examines practices at eight leading universities that markedly improved graduation rates over a sustained period of time, especially among underrepresented students.

SDSU was called out specifically for its increase in six-year graduation rates for Latino students, which nearly doubled from 31.4 percent in 2002 to 58.8 percent in 2011.

 "Leading colleges and universities are teaching us that just letting more students in isn’t enough."

“The growth of economic inequality and decline of social mobility in recent decades has made it that much more important that we radically increase the number of low-income students and students of color completing a college education,” said Kati Haycock, president of The Education Trust.

“Leading colleges and universities are teaching us that just letting more students in isn’t enough. Colleges need to assume their share of responsibility for making sure students have the supports they need to complete,” Haycock continued.

University-wide effort

Through a university-wide effort, SDSU has committed to closing the achievement gap through a number of programs aimed at fostering student success and creating a college-going culture for students starting as early as elementary school.

  • Programs include the Educational Opportunity Program, which provides services and support for more than 1500 low-income, first generation college students
  • Compact for Success, which is aimed at creating a college-going culture in underserved San Diego middle and high schools
  • The Early Start Program, which requires new freshmen with remediation needs to take remedial courses during the summer so they are not behind in the fall
  • Casa Azteca,which provides student services and study space for commuter students, giving them the access usually available only to students who live on campus

Common elements

Other universities recognized by The Education Trust include Florida State University, Georgia State University, University of North Carolina – Greensboro, University of Southern California, University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Alabama.

Though each university approaches graduation rate challenges in different ways, the report highlighted common elements that were present across all eight universities: deeply and publicly committed campus leadership willing to make student success a high priority and the early and ongoing use of data to identify problems and evaluate solutions.

View the full report online.

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