Learner Insights Case Study: SLCC Uses PDP to Develop High Impact Student Retention and Completion Strategies
South Louisiana Community College (SLCC) in Lafayette, Louisiana, serves a student population of about 7,000 for-credit students at nine campuses spread across eight southcentral Louisiana civil parishes (counties). SLCC caters to a transfer student population, with two-thirds of those students eventually transferring to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette among other four-year institutions. Along with college, many of SLCC’s students are juggling jobs and families, both of which can make staying in college and achieving a degree or credential more challenging. The National Student Clearinghouse’s Postsecondary Data Partnership (PDP) helps SLCC maximize their learners’ success by putting comprehensive data on student momentum, equity, and outcomes at their fingertips through interactive dashboards and analysis-ready files.
The PDP dashboards give SLCC leaders a clear view into how their students are progressing — and reveal opportunities to improve student outcomes. The PDP dashboards were implemented at a unique time for SLCC. In response to its comprehensive strategic planning process, the college charged its Retention and Completion Council with acting on these opportunities. The council began by identifying key drivers of student success. For example:
- What percentage of students complete key gateway courses for their degree programs?
- What percentage of students stay enrolled from semester to semester?
- How long does it take students to earn a credential?
Using the PDP dashboard data, the council developed high-impact strategies that would help the college increase its retention rate, boost its credit accumulation rate, and determine ways to support students to enable progress through SLCC’s degree and credential programs. The PDP dashboard, at the same time, provides the college with a means of continuously tracking the effectiveness of these strategies by reporting key outcome performance over time.
The PDP also provides analysis-ready files to help answer those questions in both depth and detail — with Clearinghouse supporting schools as they upload their data and learn how to use the full capabilities of the dashboards. “The Clearinghouse has tons of materials, resources, and webinars — really good training on how to use the dashboards is available 24/7 on the Clearinghouse’s website,” said York A. Forsyth, institutional analytics and research manager at SLCC.
PDP data drove broad action to improve student retention and completion rates at SLCC. For example, the college developed a task force to partner with local K-12 schools to increase college readiness and access. It expanded SLCC communications and orientation materials to welcome students. It conducted professional development to help faculty identify at-risk students in time to intervene with support. It monitored excessive credit hours to identify students who were facing delays getting into degree programs, like nursing, and reached out to help students get “unstuck.” SLCC also integrates PDP metrics into scorecards to monitor and evidence progress toward its strategic goals.
Looking ahead, SLCC leaders intend to expand their use of PDP data. “We’ve integrated the PDP dashboard into our strategic plan scorecards, and we’ll use that data to evaluate committees’ and operational units’ progress as they implement improvement strategies across the college,” said Erica Hughes, SLCC’s director of institutional effectiveness and accreditation. “As future projects arise, we’re continually pushing our teams to use PDP data to facilitate measurement. It has been a very positive addition to our institution’s strategic plan execution processes.”