SAVANNAH — The Education Trust, a nonprofit organization in Washington that seeks to shape and influence national and state policy with a focus on reducing achievement gaps, recently named Armstrong State University a top performing school for underrepresented minority students.
In the Trust’s new report, “Rising Tide: Do College Grad Rate Gains Benefit All Students?” Armstrong is identified as one of 26 top performing universities nationwide.
“Not only has Armstrong improved its overall graduation rate, but it also has increased rates for underrepresented students (by 12 or more percentage points) and cut gaps in completion rates between underrepresented and white students,” said Dr. José Luis Santos, vice president for The Education Trust’s Higher Education Policy and Practice. “As such, Armstrong State University is listed as a top-gaining institution in the report.”
In recent years, Armstrong has implemented intentional measures designed to raise graduation rates for minority students.
“As a result, we’ve experienced significant gains in retention rates in recent years, particularly for African-American students,” says Armstrong Provost Dr. Robert Smith. “We’re honored that The Education Trust has recognized Armstrong for increasing graduation rates and narrowing the gap for underrepresented students.”
More than two-thirds of all four-year public colleges and universities increased overall graduation rates from 2003 to 2013. Among the 255 institutions that improved and serve a sizable population of African-American, Latino and Native American students, 77 percent raised graduation rates for underrepresented minority students. In the national minority bracket, Latinos made the largest leap with 7.4 percentage points and black students forged the smallest increase at 4.4 points. Native American students saw an increase of 6.4 points.
“Institutional leaders must be intentional about how they support their students of color and how to best guide them to leave with a degree in hand,” said Dr. Andrew H. Nichols, The Education Trust’s director of higher-education research and data analytics and a co-author of the report. “Leading institutions have shown how leaders can change the culture of their campus to focus on student success. They consistently analyze their data, they find troubling trends, they engage faculty to find solutions, and they listen to students and make them part of the problem-solving process.”