Report: ISU struggling to retain key students

Indiana State University officials concerned about low freshman retention rates, especially among African-American students, are looking at ways to keep more students in college to get their degrees.

Provost Jack Maynard told trustees recently that only 40 percent of conditionally admitted and African-American students are returning to college for their sophomore year. The rate for all first-time, full-time students is just 58 percent, the Tribune-Star reported.

Maynard said the 58 percent retention rate is the lowest the school has seen and that the goal is to get that rate "back up in the high 60 percent range."

ISU has developed programs to help improve retention and graduation rates, including a summer program for new freshmen, a performance incentive program and a mentoring and tutoring program for African-American students.

A panel is drafting a three-year retention plan to present to ISU President Dan Bradley in January.

Some ideas being considered include required tutoring and tighter admissions standards.

Trustees have also agreed to change the freshman academic dismissal policy to reflect a move toward "minus" grades such as A-, B-, etc.

Previously, freshmen whose cumulative GPA fell to 1.0 or less on a 4.0 scale faced academic dismissal after their first term. Under the change, the GPA that would trigger dismissal falls to 0.85 or less, though deans will have discretion to allow a student to stay on a case-by case basis.

Maynard said changing the academic dismissal policy to a 0.85 GPA or less compensates for a move to the minus grades.

"It is not a lowering of standards," he said.

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