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Program Strives To Increase Minority College Enrollment In Western States

LOS ANGELES,  -- Using proven resources and tools necessary to improve postsecondary achievement and outcomes, the Center for Urban Education (CUE) at the University of Southern California and theWestern Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) have formed a partnership to increase the number of traditionally underrepresented students obtaining college degrees and credentials in the Western states. 

With funding from The Ford Foundation, both organizations will use cost-effective and sustainable strategies to make racial equity a priority for the member states involved in the project. CUE and WICHE will each share information and best practices with one another related to improving college outcomes. 

The Center for Urban Education’s expertise lies in its tools, which help states, systems, and institutions to make sense of college data and use it to positively transform educational outcomes. In use at a number of institutions around the country, the Center’s methods take a sensible, systematic and accessible approach to data-based decision-making.

“Our Center is adept at creating capacity for data-informed decisions by working with practitioners, side-by-side, on campus,” said Dr. Estela Mara Bensimon, co-director of the Center for Urban Education and a professor of higher education.” Having the right data disaggregated by race and ethnicity is important but it’s not enough. We can help states, systems, and institutions invested in equity to improve their structures, practices and policies, which would help make the numbers real and minimize the opportunity gap facing African American, Latina and Latino students.”

“Together we will work to increase the participation and success rates of students, particularly those from groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in higher education,” said David Longanecker, president of WICHE. “There is no shortage of challenges. Budget cuts, low college completion rates and changing student demographics mean that states, particularly those in the Western region, need to create impact with limited resources in order to meet national goals of improved higher education outcomes.”

As part of the project, both CUE and WICHE will work closely with the Nevada System of Higher Education’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council (EDIC) and system leadership to act on data in concrete ways to address the seemingly intractable challenge of inequity in educational outcomes. Tools and processes, developed at CUE, enable systems to gain a nuanced understanding of the barriers affecting success for students of color, and to set long- and short-term goals for improvement tied to their strategic priorities.

Nevada will be the first of the fifteen WICHE states to adopt CUE’s tools and approach to data analysis as a component of the CUE-WICHE partnership. Many California colleges have previously been involved in partnering with CUE over the years. Recent studies have shown that while the number of jobs requiring some form of postsecondary education in the state is expected to rise, Nevada consistently ranks near the bottom in college access and attainment, in comparison to other states. 

"We are extremely pleased to be selected to work with the Center for Urban Education and WICHE on addressing through data our low college success rate, particularly for underrepresented students,” said Daniel J. Klaich, Chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education. “This gives us the opportunity to look for and address potential roadblocks that hinder our building a new Nevada that supports a vibrant economy. We must graduate more students, particularly from our fastest growing population, Latino youth."

For Nevada to meet President Obama’s ambitious college attainment goals, the state would need to grant 70,916 degrees and certificates by 2020, according to the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS). That translates to 1,064 additional degrees and certificates – a 6.4 percent increase.

WICHE’s 15 member states are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

The USC Rossier School of Education is one of the world's premier centers for the study of urban education, preparing teachers and educational leaders who are committed to strengthening urban education locally, nationally and globally.  Established at the USC Rossier School in 1999 as part of the University's urban initiative, the Center for Urban Education (CUE) leads socially conscious research and develops tools needed for institutions of higher education to produce equity in student outcomes.
  
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