Student success programming in Texas is now one step easier to identify, thanks to a new resource database.
The Texas Student Success Program Inventory (TX SSPI) features 244 student success programs from 74 public institutions in Texas, including program details, eligibility criteria, funding sources and outcomes.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board contracted with Ithaka S+R to collect information regarding student success programs and initiatives and organize it into a usable system for stakeholders. The two groups published the database on Open Educational Resources Texas and a corresponding report this month, pulling back the curtain on measures to support students through their time in higher education.
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Texas is the first state to feature a database of this sort, opening up collaborative conversations for student success stakeholders to create, improve and measure the targets of their programs.
“If we can just lean into this community building and sharing [of resources], I do believe that we will succeed and, in turn, all of our students will succeed,” says Jennielle Strother, assistant commissioner for student success at the coordinating board.
The database: The SSPI began about a year ago, using CARES Act dollars to fund the inventory, Strother explains. The goal was to create organized information for student success practitioners to access and get ideas from.
In the inventory, each program has its own page with a description, key details, evaluation data and contact information for the program leadership.
TX SSPI is organized by at least one of five shared themes: program objectives, practice areas, target population, institution and alignment with the goals of Building a Talent Strong Texas—THECB’s 2030 strategic plan.
Users can filter by delivery format, institutional size or sector, awards earned, funding source, or practice area in addition to the themes.
The SSPI is designed to be easily navigable by any student success stakeholder or student looking to identify programs to promote their own outcomes.
“The inventory presents a unique opportunity for institutional leaders and student success professionals at different institutions to collaborate and innovate around student success programming offered across the state, continuing to make student success a cross-institutional, statewide endeavor,” according to a research report from Ithaka S+R.
For the first iteration of program collection, THECB and Ithaca S+R leveraged programs from public schools only and received submissions from 98 percent of public institutions in Texas.
Approximately 44 percent of institutions listed in SSPI are minority-serving institutions, and 59 percent are public, four-year institutions and a majority of institutions submitted multiple programs. The University of Texas at Austin has nine resources, followed by the Austin Community College District and Texas A&M at San Antonio, with six resources each.
Defining success: As student success is a wide concept, organizers focused on six core objectives to articulate what student success looks like in higher education:
- Persistence and retention
- Credential attainment or graduation
- Academic performance
- Postcompletion goals
- Social development and well-being
- Making credential attainment affordable
From those six objectives, researchers identified 16 high-impact or promising practices for student success:
- Academic goal setting and planning
- Accelerated or fast-track developmental education
- Alert and intervention/proactive advising
- Alleviating financial strain
- Basic needs assessment and provision
- Career planning
- Cultural competence training for faculty and staff
- Diversifying faculty
- Experiential learning beyond the classroom (e.g., internships, community-based projects)
- Learning community
- Student success course/skill building
- Supplemental instruction
- Teaching effectiveness training for faculty and staff
Having evidence-based programs was important to THECB, Strother explains, so stakeholders could leverage ideas to scale.
Looking ahead: The database launched earlier this month and, so far, Strother has seen excitement around it.
“The obvious value [student success practitioners] see is just having a place to access that information,” she says. Student success professionals have also shared they appreciate THECB’s avenues for feedback to improve and fine-tune the inventory.
For the next iteration of submissions, private schools will be invited to submit programs, and the measures of program effectiveness will grow, Strothers says.
THECB is talking to different vendors to demonstrate program efficiency in addition to mapping to the strategic plan outcomes in Building a Talent Strong Texas.
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