Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Diverse outcomes 

The watch word around SCSU these days is "retention". Only 71% of students enrolling as new freshmen at the university are here one year later (last year the number was below 69%, so that's progress.) Joanne Jacobs reports on two articles in the Christian Science Monitor about the lack of returns to diversity. College presidents see a "minority achievement gap", and in some stores "racial diversity seemed to hinder teamwork". At SCSU, our retention data shows that retention is correlated with ACT score and high school rank. Students with ACT scores 25 (18.5% of our admissions this year) and higher were retained at lower rates than those in the 20-24 range, which was much higher than retention for those with ACT below 20 (28.5% of new entering freshmen). According to data I viewed today but not yet on line, scores for "students of color" (I'm quoting because that's what they were called in the report, it's not my choice) were about 2 ACT points lower. But, as John Rosenberg points out, there's a difference in retention rates for students of color versus white students even when you control for rank and ACT.
Presumably these colleges are attractive in the first place because of their academic culture, but ... in order to be successfully �diverse� that culture must be changed to accomodate the newcomers. This calls to mind Groucho Marx�s famous remark about not wanting to join any club that would have him.