News @ the Beach

Graduation Rate Increases, Achievement Gap Shrinks

Special Report from Interim Provost David Dowell

CSULB’s six-year graduation rate for first-time freshmen has risen – again – to just under 67 percent. This rate is well above the national average rates for public large master’s universities (48 percent, according to College Results Online) such as CSULB and for U.S. universities of all types.

Also important, the rate for underrepresented students increased a whopping five points to 63 percent. This rate is far above the national average rates for public large master’s universities (38 percent). With this gain, our achievement gap between underrepresented students and other students decreased by more than one-third. Interestingly, we have graduation achievement gaps only for freshmen; underrepresented transfer students graduate at the same rate overall as other students on our campus, although college results vary. We remain focused on closing gaps where they exist.

The 5 percent increase represents 83 more underrepresented young people who earned valuable degrees in May than would have at the graduation rate for 2014. In addition, 18 more non-underrepresented students received valuable degrees.

Are we moving students more quickly to graduation within measured periods or have gains increased the total number of students who ever graduate? Both outcomes are important. Improvement in time-to-degree creates access to college for other students, reduces student loan debt, saves money for students and families, and frees up state and federal financial aid resources to be offered to other students. Improvements in total numbers graduating are even more important, creating opportunities for students to have a career, a middle-class life, a healthier lifestyle, and to actively participate in civic and cultural society. Past analyses have indicated that the large majority of our increases are due to students graduating who otherwise would not have without campus improvements. (In fact, time-to-degree has barely reduced.)

We are always interested in quality. The campus maintains extensive processes for curriculum review at several levels, program review, and discipline and regional accreditation that all are aimed at ensuring the quality of our valuable degrees.

CSULB has now added about 14 points to our six-year graduation rate with the past four freshman cohorts. The average gain for U.S. public large master’s universities over a decade has only been 4 percent (according to College Results Online).

CSULB has become a national model for success with the current generation of college students: diverse, often first generation, frequently from low-income school districts and families. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities recognized The Beach with the award for Excellence and Innovation last year. Since then we have continued to improve. Of course, we are far from perfect, but we can be very proud of these gains.

Our incredible achievements are the result of the hard work and dedication of many folks who adopted student success as an overarching goal. I particularly want to acknowledge the efforts of our advisors, faculty, and associate deans and others who are involved in enrollment management.

Thank you for helping our students be successful. Go Beach!