July 16, 2021
Sacramento state is making significant progress in closing its “fairness gap” affecting students of color, new data shows.
In recent years, the University has implemented policies and practices designed to increase the graduation rates of all academics and close the long-existing gaps between traditionally under-represented students and others.
Since 2016, when Sac State launched its “Finish in Four” and “Through in Two” campaigns as part of CSU’s Graduation Initiative 2025 campaign, the University has seen a steady increase in the number of students from all walks of life. graduating in a timely manner.
Projections for 2021 suggest the trend continues, despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
For over a year, most students in Sac State have been taking their courses online in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus. The pivot was difficult for many students, some of whom had to study in cramped premises with inadequate equipment and spotty internet connection.
Nevertheless, they persevered. Sac State predicts that 26.1% of 2021 graduates will complete their degree in four years, up from 8.8% in 2016. The two-year graduation rate for transfer students, which was 27% in 2016, now stands at 45%.
The university has seen improvements across the board, said James Dragna, executive director of university initiatives and student success.
Perhaps most notably, the equity gap between traditionally underserved minority students and others is narrowing, according to statistics from Dragna’s office. The gap has risen from a high of nearly 12% two years ago to 4.3% expected this year, the data shows.
“We are encouraged by the growing percentage of students who graduate in four years, and even more encouraged by the closing of the equity gap,” said President Robert S. Nelsen. “We must never lose sight of our goal of helping every student graduate in a timely manner. “
Sac State students have made strides in their efforts to create a culture that helps academics from all walks of life, Dragna said. These efforts include streamlining enrollment and making classrooms more inclusive and welcoming.
“We are working to create a fair environment that works for everyone, that helps students move forward who in the past faced significant obstacles,” he said.
CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro cited equity in education as one of his top priorities.
“I want to meet these bold goals of the 2025 Graduation Initiative and accelerate the closing of the equity gap,” he said in a live interview in March with the Public Policy Institute of California . “It’s a real priority for me.
Improving faculty diversity and “developing an environment of belonging and significance in the classroom” are the keys to filling the gaps, said Dragna. Sac State has progressed toward its goals by reviewing its hiring and retention practices, delivering anti-racism training, and helping students succeed in a virtual learning environment, he said.
The University is on track to meet or exceed most of the CSU graduation goals in 2025, Dragna said.
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2020 and 2021 graduates benefit from a unique “CARmencement”
“We are working to create a fair environment that works for everyone, that helps students move forward who in the past have faced significant obstacles. “- James Dragna, Director General of University Initiatives and Student Success
As part of the system’s initiative, Sac State and each of CSU’s other 22 campuses have added thousands of high-demand courses that are required for graduation, eliminating remedial courses that don’t give credits. Additionally, Sac State automatically enrolls freshmen in courses totaling 15 credit hours, putting them on the path to graduation in a timely manner. The University has also expanded grants and other incentives to allow more students to attend summer courses.
“Thanks to these and other activities, we now have the highest percentage of students taking summer school in our history,” said Dragna. Thanks to these summer sessions, many more students have been able to stay the course towards obtaining their diploma and launching their careers.
The University’s recent gains in graduation rates are among the best in CSU, and “quite possibly in the country,” Dragna said.
“We came together and achieved something that many thought was impossible,” he said. “It’s a collaborative effort involving so many people, but especially the individual students who, when given the opportunity, have found a way to be successful.”
Not all students want or need to graduate in four years, Nelsen said.
“Different people take different routes to get their degrees,” he said. “But college shouldn’t be the reason a student can’t ‘finish in four.’ We need to provide pathways to graduation, not roadblocks. “