In 2015, Lorain County Community College was one three community colleges selected by the MDRC, a non-profit, non-partisan education and social policy research organization, to pilot in Ohio a successful New York program focused on helping low-income students achieve greater success.
The Ohio Department of Higher Education recently conducted a panel of experts from the Ohio colleges in the study to review the results of the study. Dr. Marcia Ballinger, president of Lorain County Community College, shared LCCC’s results indicating students in the program are achieving success.
“The early findings that we are seeing is that implementing the right combination of student supports is key to improving academic outcomes for low-income students at LCCC,” said Ballinger said.
The presidents from Cuyahoga Community College and Cincinnati State Community and Technical College also participated in the discussion today along with students from the three colleges including LCCC’s Dorisa Johnson.
To date 344 students in LCCC’s SAIL (Students Accelerating in Learning) program have earned more credit with higher grade point averages while continuing to make progress toward their degrees at a faster rate compared to that of a control group in the study. Students entered the program each semester since 2015 as either part of study or control groups.
The SAIL program seeks to improve student success by addressing and removing barriers for low-income, first-time, full-time college students who are seeking to earn a degree. Students who were chosen to participate in the program received personalized advising and career planning advice, free tuition, food gift cards, textbook vouchers and were required to take advantage of tutoring services offered by the college.
SAIL is based on the Accelerating Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) at the City University of New York.
“Anytime we can learn from successful practices of others in higher education, particularly when working with students struggling with all the issues and barriers associated with poverty, count us in,” Ballinger added. “Serving under-resourced students is a critical initiative of the college’s Vision 2020 strategic plan. The real opportunity with this program is to scale it beyond a research study. We are delighted the Ohio Department of Higher Education is interested in this model.”
Other highlights from the four student cohort groups that have participated include:
- 10 SAIL students will have earned an associate degree since beginning the program by the end of fall semester
- Another 16 are anticipated to graduate in spring of 2017.
SAIL is on target to surpass the 50 percent graduation rate in three years for participants.The Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation provided anchor funding for this study along with grants from other higher education philanthropies.