Scorecard numbers raise concern

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Less than half of all Delta College students have completed degrees or transferred to four-year colleges in the past six years according to recent student performance statistics.

On April 9, Delta released results of the California Community College system Student Success Scorecard, which measures student performance across different demographics and success indicators, such as completion and persistence rates.

This follows new state law establishing the use of the tool across all state community colleges, including Delta.

Although the rate of completions seems low, Interim Vice President of Instruction Matt Wetstein notes that not all first-time students who take classes at Delta do so with the intention of completing a degree.

According to research by Peter Bahr of the University of Michigan, about 30 percent of those first-time students just experiment with one or two classes with no intention of completing a degree.

“They are taking one or two classis in topics; it could be bookkeeping, agriculture, or business classes. They are taking those classes and going back out into the workforce with those skills and making more money,” said Wetstein. “Those are successful students, but they may be totally missed by those statistics.”

Other major findings in the scorecard showed that persistence rates are high, 72.5 percent of the student body returns from semester to semester, while the rate at the state level is at 65 percent.

Additionally, there are higher persistence rates among students who are unprepared for college, rather than those who are prepared, suggesting that the college may be adequately addressing the needs of those students.

However, findings from the scorecard also highlight the presence of an achievement gap among different ethnic groups.

African-American students who come prepared for college have a 42.3 percent completion rate in contrast to the 81.3 percent rate among prepared Asian students.

“We know we have some progress to make in closing the equity gap at the college, but the scorecard shows how strong our college is, and how committed the staff and faculty are to student success,” said Delta’s Board President Lisa Turner in a press release.

While the overall achievement gap is an issue for Delta College to address, it remains a few points lower than the statewide gap, giving a positive look on the small successes that the college has been able to maintain. Wetstein also identified the timing of the recession as a factor in the data.

“When these students were going to school, 2006 to 2007 was the start of the recession. We started cutting classes. We got rid of weekend classes, evening classes, ESL, and basic skills classes, which led to a negative ability for students to get classes,” he said. “I’m proud of the fact that this number didn’t drop more.”

It remains to be seen how Delta college plans to improve student performance over the next few years. Wetstein discussed the need for the college to set its own goals for acceptable rates of success, but he has a positive outlook on the statistics.

“Students are validating how good this college is. It’s really positive when you start looking at persistence and completion. We really look good as a college,” he said.

EXPLORE THE SITE

Visit http://scorecard.cccco.edu to explore the Student Success Scorecard.