An Expansive Inventory of Student Success Programs at Texas Colleges and Universities
Students can face numerous barriers on their path to a degree, especially given the hardships wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is therefore essential that colleges and universities provide students with the support they need to thrive on campus and complete their degrees. Student success programs play a vital role in facilitating this support through a range of innovative and evidence-based services. However, it can be difficult to access information about these programs across states and regions. This lack of information about how programs operate and what makes them successful poses an obstacle for professionals seeking to collaborate and expand programming and practices.
To meet this challenge, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) commissioned Ithaka S+R to facilitate the creation of the Texas Student Success Program Inventory (TX SSPI), an online resource that organizes detailed information about innovative and impactful student success programs at public Texas colleges and universities on an easy-to-use, searchable platform. The inventory aligns with the THECB’s newest strategic plan, Building a Talent Strong Texas, released in early 2022, which aims to increase the postsecondary attainment of working-age Texans to 60 percent by 2030. Designed to help the state meet its attainment goals, the inventory makes best practices publicly accessible in order to assist new and existing programs to enhance their services.
Because most of the functions in an institution support student success, Ithaka S+R and the THECB developed general guidance for the types of programming that could be included in the inventory. Our consultation with the THECB and review of pertinent literature helped to identify a set of key objectives and promising practices that high-impact student success programs typically deploy. Using these objectives and practices as a guide, we asked institutional leaders to identify up to five of the most impactful programs on their campus, and then followed up with program leaders and staff to gather details on program components, including eligibility criteria, funding sources, and program outcomes.
These efforts and contributions yielded 244 programs across 74 institutions in Texas. The programs are now publicly available to search, sort, and filter on the inventory hub (consider reading the Searching Effectively tips to get started). In addition, our newly published report summarizes the types of student success programs on offer in Texas and their key descriptive characteristics. For instance, roughly 89 percent of programs are aimed at improving students’ retention and persistence. However, the core objectives of these programs vary by institutional type (i.e. two-year versus four-year and above) and location. Most programs in the inventory (approximately 87 percent) focus on low-income, first-generation, or students of color. While there are programs that focus on other historically marginalized populations—students facing food insecurity or who have experienced homelessness and Undocumented/DACAmented students—it’s likely that students facing these challenges could benefit from more targeted support.
The Student Success Program Inventory will be regularly updated to ensure it is comprehensive, current, and fosters collaboration across institutions. Over the next several months, we will add new programs and functions to the platform, including a group feature. If you have any questions or feedback about the inventory, please contact us at ssiTexas@ithaka.org.
The inventory is hosted on the OERTX Repository, which is a digital library for open educational resources in Texas offered by the THECB and supported by the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME).
The number of resources reflected on the TX SSPI hub may fluctuate due to certain technical processes that are a part of the hosting platform. We expect to add even more programs from public and private not-for-profit institutions over the next several months.