UIC has partnered withmany community organizations to develop a coordinated effort to support and mentor students as they transition from high school to UIC. This partnership, housed in the Office of First-Year Student Initiatives, aims to integrate work already being done by external organizations in order to better support UIC students and increase the efficiency with which both UIC and partner organizations operate. An evaluation was conducted to assess the impact of these partnerships on student success. Qualitative data have been collected from partner organizations, incoming freshmen, and key university staff. In addition, student data, such as retention rates from first to second year and financial holds, are examined, in order to assess the efficiency and short-term effectiveness of the partnership. Student graduation rates will be examined to assess long-term impacts on student success.
High School Partnership
UIC is committed to increasing our retention and graduation rates for CPS graduates, a goal that is aligned with the CPS goal to increase the college graduation rate of its students to 60% by 2025. As part of our larger transition coaching initiative, OFYI has worked closely with the CPS Office for College and Career Success to develop a transition coaching program that began operating in two CPS high schools during the 2015-16 academic year. The program was developed to address the large number of students at these partner schools who are academically well-prepared for college but who do not enroll. During the first year of the program, UIC-employed transition coaches worked closely with staff and leaders at the partner schools to increase the proportion of college-ready students who apply to and enroll in postsecondary institutions. Since its inception, the program has expanded to support students from high schools that under-perform in college. Parallel programs are now operating in parochial and suburban high schools with similarly low rates of college enrollment and success.
The High School Partnership Program evaluation has two components. First, during 2015-16, we conducted a needs assessment at the partner schools. Information gathered from this is being used to inform the development of the UIC coaching program at the partner schools. Then, during fall 2017, we conducted a process evaluation to assess implementation of the coaching program during its first year. Formative data from this evaluation will be used to understand if the program is being implemented as planned, to explore barriers or challenges to implementation, and to provide UIC with feedback that can be used to improve program quality.
Program Referral Study
Students who work with transition coaches in high school must not only have access to coaches but must choose to take advantage of these resources. We are therefore exploring alternative mechanisms for connecting transition coaches to students who may potentially benefit from the additional support that coaches provide. Students who entered UIC in fall 2015 and who met certain criteria (e.g., live in Chicago, first generation to attend college) were identified through a survey administered at the time of placement testing (see noncognitive factors). Eligible students were then randomly assigned for referral to a partner organization. The goals of this study are to assess the effectiveness of this referral process and to learn about the characteristics of students who followed-up on the referral as compared to those who did not.