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Rhode Island Promise Results

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Breakdown of academic outcomes and results pertaining to Rhode Island Promise

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Rhode Island Promise Results

  1. 1. Rhode Island Promise Results Data Analysis and Text by Prof. Jean Billerbeck Community College of Rhode Island Biology Department Presentation by Andrew Stewart
  2. 2. RI Promise Results  1. Given that 65% of initial RI Promise recipients were NOT “on track” to graduate as of the end of the most recent semester, can RI Promise be considered a success?  Cannot yet be determined. As we have not yet reached the end of this Spring 2019 term, it is impossible to predict for certain what number/percentage of the initial 2017 RIP cohort will successfully graduate within the 2-year target of the Promise Program. However, given that the success rate of Promise students tends to decline over time (see graph above), the numbers/percentages of those NOT “on track” will likely increase from where it now stands.
  3. 3. RI Promise Results  2. Considering the methods by which CCRI assigns students grades & determines GPA eligibility for RI Promise, isn’t the actual percentage of successful (“on track”) RI Promise students much lower than 35%?  For the following reasons, it is likely that the actual percentage of successful Promise students is lower than 35%:  CCRI systemically inflates student Grade Point Averages. The CCRI Grade Policy does not include C- or D- grades. Thus, reported GPAs may be inflated by as much as 0.3 points. Professors are forced to grant C grades (2.0 quality points) to students who actually earn C- grades (1.7 quality points) & D grades (1.0 quality points) to students who actually earn D- grades (0.7 quality points). This systemic curving of low-end grades may inflate CCRI student GPAs by as much as 0.3 points; a student who is reported to have a 2.5 GPA, may have actually earned only a 2.2 GPA.
  4. 4. RI Promise Results  2. Considering the methods by which CCRI assigns students grades & determines GPA eligibility for RI Promise, isn’t the actual percentage of successful (“on track”) RI Promise students much lower than 35%?  In their response to the APRA, CCRI stated that they use credits of any kind, including both developmental & college-level credits, to determine if a student meets the 15-credit minimum per semester eligibility requirement for RI Promise. However, they use whichever is higher: either a student’s financial aid GPA (both developmental & college- level grades) or their cumulative GPA (college-level grades only) to determine if a student meets the minimum 2.5 GPA eligibility requirement for RI Promise. If students tend to perform poorly in developmental courses, then cumulative GPAs will be inflated relative to financial aid GPAs. Thus, for these students, CCRI is counting credits for developmental courses towards Promise eligibility, but not the grades for those very same courses!  The credit & GPA eligibility criteria currently being used are not consistent with one another. And, the GPA eligibility criterion is not being applied consistently across students. To solve both of these inequities, CCRI should be using the financial aid GPA (which includes ALL class grades) to determine the eligibility of ALL students for RI Promise.
  5. 5. RI Promise Results  3. Is it cost effective for the state of RI to spend $25,738 for a RI Promise student to earn an Associate’s degree that would have otherwise cost the student $9,128 in tuition/fees, resulting in an estimated total cost of roughly $34,866 per graduate?  With the state of Rhode Island running at a serious budget deficit, I would suggest not…
  6. 6. RI Promise Results  4. Is the RI Promise Program achieving its goal of enabling more HS graduates to attend college?  Cannot yet be determined. CCRI’s RI Promise Initial Data Briefing (March 2017) showed a 43% increase in freshman enrollment numbers between 2016 & 2017, which they attributed to the RI Promise Program. However, an increase in CCRI freshman enrollment numbers could easily be caused by other factors & does not necessarily mean that a greater percentage of RI HS graduates are going to college than in the past.
  7. 7. RI Promise Results  4. Is the RI Promise Program achieving its goal of enabling more HS graduates to attend college?  Alternative hypotheses that could explain enrollment increases are:  1) a change in population demographics; greater numbers of HS graduates in 2017 & 2018, versus 2016, could have resulted in a larger freshman applicant pool, &/or  2) free tuition at CCRI may have drawn many recent HS graduates away from attending RIC or URI. As RIC’s overall freshman enrollment numbers dropped by 114 students (9.5%) from Fall 2016 to Fall 2017 & dropped another 241 students (22%) from Fall 2017 to Fall 2018, there appears to be evidence of this.
  8. 8. RI Promise Results  4. Is the RI Promise Program achieving its goal of enabling more HS graduates to attend college?  However, further data is needed from Board of Ed to determine cause of CCRI’s freshman enrollment increase:  a) Total numbers of HS diplomas/GEDs awarded in Rhode Island in 2015, 2016, 2017, & 2018 (total size of freshman college applicant pool each year);  b) Total numbers of in-state FTFTHS (first-time, full-time, HS transfer) students that enrolled at CCRI, RIC, & URI in Fall 2015, 2016, 2017, & 2018.
  9. 9. RI Promise Results  5. Is the RI Promise Program achieving its goal of helping more minority & low-income students to attend college?  Cannot yet be determined. CCRI’s RI Promise Initial Data Briefing (March 2017) showed enrollment increases for both minority & low- income students, which they attributed to the RI Promise Program. However, once again, demographic changes in the numbers of minority & low-income HS graduates could explain this. Additionally, the increases in both groups were extremely similar, suggesting that many students may have qualified as BOTH categories simultaneously. If the two categories overlap significantly & are correlated, not independent of one another, then it is misleading to report them as separate increases/achievements.
  10. 10. RI Promise Results  5. Is the RI Promise Program achieving its goal of helping more minority & low-income students to attend college?  Data needed from BOE to determine effect of RI Promise on minority enrollment: − a) Total numbers of HS diplomas/GEDs awarded to minority students in Rhode Island in 2015, 2016, 2017, & 2018.  We are awaiting a response from CCRI to our APRA of 3/19 seeking enrollment & “on track” numbers for minority, low-income, & minority + low-income RI Promise students to determine success rate of students in these groups.
  11. 11. RI Promise Results  6. Was the accelerated Winter 2019 Session (J-term) effective in helping RI Promise students to succeed?  Cannot yet be determined. CCRI insisted on running the trial Winter Session despite strong faculty opposition; yet, the Winter Session does not appear to have been successful. As the data above show, J-term enabled only 8 students to get their credit & GPA levels back “on track” to meet the minimum requirements of RI Promise, even though J-term grades were unusually high & heavily skewed heavily towards A, B, & C grades.
  12. 12. RI Promise Results  6. Was the accelerated Winter 2019 Session (J-term) effective in helping RI Promise students to succeed?  This non-normal grade distribution suggests that the courses offered in the accelerated, 3-week Winter Session were much less academically-rigorous than those offered during the regular 15-week semesters. The APRA response also indicated that 13 Promise students “graduated” in the Winter Session. However, it is not clear if these students have officially graduated at this time, or whether their degrees will be conferred at the end of this Spring 2019 term.  The cost of the Winter Session is not yet available because it was funded by Spring 2019 RI Promise monies. However, the low student success rate suggests that it may not have been cost effective to run.

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