California State University, Long Beach
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Campus Lauded For Reducing Opportunity Gaps

Published: April 4, 2016

 

CSULB has been one of the most successful four-year public institutions at reducing opportunity gaps–the difference in graduation rates between typically underrepresented students and the rest of the university–according to a report released by the Education Trust. Among the report’s findings, CSULB has narrowed the opportunity gap among black students and white students by 5.7 percentage points. The Education Trust is a national non-profit agency that promotes high academic achievement for all students at all levels, particularly students of color and low-income students.

“Closing opportunity gaps is a university-wide priority, so the research by the Education Trust validates the hard work and dedication of our excellent faculty and staff to achieving this goal,” said President Jane Close Conoley. “I am proud of these measurable gains, but it is not time to rest on our laurels. CSULB is committed to eliminating all our students’ opportunity gaps.”

The Education Trust report, “Rising Tide II: Do Black Student Benefit as Grad Rates Increase?,” examined 232 institutions with at least 30 first-time, full-time black students and 30 first-time, full-time white students that improved graduation rates from 2003-13. Based on the report’s findings, CSULB and 51 other institutions stood out for substantially improving overall graduation rates while also achieving gains for black students.

CSULB’s latest statistics show that graduation rates for African Americans are even higher than reported by the Education Trust. The report is based on data that are two years older than the university’s current graduation rates. Taking CSULB’s latest figures into account, the total gain for African-American students at the university increases 24.8 percent and brings the graduation rate to 63 percent–much higher than national averages for African-American students and, in fact, higher than rates for all students in comparable universities. This increase is expected to continue.

CSULB has received national recognition for its work to increase graduation rates. The university’s overall six-year graduation rates for 2014-15 reached an all-time high of 66.7 percent, well above the national average of 48 percent for large master’s institutions.

CSULB attributes the success to university-wide efforts rather than to any single tactic.

“What has made a difference is the orchestration of many strategies sustained over the past decade with an unwavering focus. It has truly been a campus effort with administration, faculty and staff working together to help students earn their degrees in a timely manner,” said Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs David Dowell.

Some of the strategies the university has employed include increasing the number of advisors and embracing technology to help students stay on track to meet graduation requirements. CSULB has increased investments in supplemental instruction, learning assistance and tutoring. The divisions of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs have collaborated to develop learning communities aimed at freshmen who arrived with college preparatory needs. Additionally, they have also partnered to launch a “Men’s Success Initiative” aimed at helping African-American and Latino men succeed academically.

In addition to increasing the achievement of students coming from diverse populations, CSULB is actively working to increase the college-going rates of African-American students. Among some of the approaches the university is using to accomplish that goal include an expanded year-round partnership with the predominantly African-American churches in the region and hosting the “Math Collaborative,” a year-long program for male African-American high school students that culminates in a two-week experience during the summer when participants stay on campus and are immersed in math education, SAT/ACT preparation and the college culture.