Illinois State University is banding together with 130 other public institutions to collaborate on new best practices to keep students in school through graduation.
University President Larry Dietz said the Powered By Publics initiative is supposed to help universities adjust to changing demographics among students.
"Some of those individuals will have issues around courses that weren't offered in the high school or that they didn't do as well in in high school, and so we want to make sure that everyone is progressing and we also want to close an achievement gap that has been there a long time across the country," said Dietz.
ISU has had an enviable retention rate. But Dietz said changing demographics which include more Latino and first-generation college students could mean change in that metric.
"That's not an ethnic issue. It's an academic preparation issue for some. We just want to make sure we are serving this new demographic population as well as we can," said Dietz.
Dietz said he believes colleges and universities can begin to see results from their data analysis and research on best practices in about a year, but it will take several years for new methods to roll out and take effect.
Dietz said the program is the largest ever collaborative effort to improve college access, equity, and degrees awarded.
Gov.-elect JB Pritzker has also named Dietz to his education success committee. The panel has met once. Dietz said the main focus will be on birth to about age 12, but he and other higher education leaders stand ready to contribute to the discussion.
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