​Newswise — The California State University (CSU) Office of the Chancellor officially launched a professional development program for faculty and staff that focuses on boosting student success through the use of available campus data. 

The new certificate program in Student Success Analytics empowers participants to use the CSU's dashboards to track student success metrics while underscoring a strong commitment to closing equity gaps, consistent with the goals of Graduation Initiative 2025

First-generation, low-income and students of color continue to graduate from college at lower rates than their peers. The initiative aims to use all available resources to eliminate opportunity and achievement gaps by identifying barriers to success.

"The certificate program provides an interactive forum for campus faculty and staff to better understand what is working well and what needs to be improved to help more underserved students reach graduation," said Jeff Gold, CSU assistant vice chancellor for Student Success Strategic Initiatives. 

The program, funded by a $484,000 grant from the Stupski Foundation, just entered its pilot stage at CSU East Bay and San Francisco State University. Each campus has assembled a team of 20 faculty and staff who will engage in a cross-campus learning community over the course of three semesters. 

During the 2018 spring semester, the learning cohort will complete a hybrid course with eight sessions, two of which will be face-to-face. The course provides participants with a set of strategies to gain deeper insight into how their students are progressing toward a college degree, with a focus on using the dashboard to identify areas for improvement. 

The dashboard allows quick access to data that highlights course performance, major changing patterns, equity gaps and persistence to degree, leading to interventions that boost student success.

After completion of the course, participants will work on an action research project during the 2018-19 academic year to develop approaches to data analyses that use student success metrics to reinforce the Graduation Initiative 2025 goals.

Going forward, results of these data action research studies along with course feedback from pilot program participants will determine next steps and any changes to the certificate program. The hope is that the first cohort will share the use of these tools at their campus, and the program can expand to more campuses in the coming years. 

"Faculty and staff are excited about gaining a better understanding of the data and using it to generate new solutions to better serve our students," said Gold. "The certificate program affords additional opportunities to work together to develop evidence-minded strategies to facilitate the path to a high quality degree for all CSU students."