The CSU Student Success Network Blog

Laying a Foundation for Equity Work on Campus: A Profile of the Chico State Team at the CSU Network’s Middle Leadership Academy

By Thad Nodine, Senior Fellow, EdInsights

When a team from Chico State arrived at the CSU Network’s Middle Leadership Academy in 2018-19, the team members had ambitious plans but no specific project to address equity issues on campus. At the Academy, they examined student data and began to focus on correlations between equity gaps in graduation rates and DFW rates during students’ first two years. They found that historically underserved students, compared with other students, were more likely to get a DFW, even accounting for incoming high-school grade point averages. Back on campus, they decided that their first step was to lay a broad foundation to support equity work.

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Mathematics and Equity: The Transformation of a “Middle Leader” in the CSU

By Thad Nodine, Senior Fellow, EdInsights

Before David Zeigler became chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Sacramento State University, he had not considered how remedial education policies might be an impediment to student success.

“We had a very draconian system,” Zeigler said. “It was not friendly at all to students. The tragic story is that it was our system and so I supported it.”

Zeigler’s “enlightenment,” as he calls it, came about through a series of professional development experiences, research, and conversations with peers, including participating in the Middle Leadership Academy. As chair, he began to attend cross-disciplinary gatherings associated with teaching and learning generally. That’s when he began to shepherd the department through a major transformation in how it supports incoming students in math.

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How Do CSU Advising Efforts Compare to National Approaches?

By Melinda Karp, Consultant, CSU Student Success Network, Founder, Phase Two Advisory
September 3, 2019

Earlier this year, the CSU Student Success Network released the second report from Destination Integration, its series on academic advising. The studies explore the perspectives of students, advisors, and administrators on advising and advising reform on CSU campuses. In reviewing the authors’ findings, I am intrigued by how closely they mirror the conclusions of national studies of advising and student services, which means that the CSU is not alone in the challenges it faces in seeking to make advising a more integrated experience for students. And if the challenges are not unique to the CSU, then neither are the solutions.

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How Learning across Systems Supports Middle Leadership

By Andrea Venezia, Executive Director, CSU Student Success Network; Rose Asera, Facilitator, CSU Student Success Network; and Bob Gabriner, Consultant, CSU Student Success Network
July 1, 2019

A new report by the Research and Planning Group (RP Group) of the California Community Colleges, struck a chord for several reasons. Not only was RP one of the inspirations for creating the CSU Student Success Network, the CSU Network’s Middle Leadership Academy is modeled after Leading from the Middle in the community colleges, and many community college colleagues generously helped get the CSU Network off the ground.

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What CSU Students Say about Advising

By Cynthia Schrager, Senior Fellow, EdInsights
May 15, 2019

As large public universities, such as those within the California State University system, focus on increasing student success, efforts to improve student advising are front and center. As institutions endeavor to become more student-centered, it’s worth asking: do students perceive advising challenges and opportunities the same way as institutional leaders do?

This post draws from our two applied research studies on academic advising: Destination Integration.

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Using an Equity Lens to Inform Practice: Learning from the Middle Leadership Academy

By Thad Nodine, Senior Fellow, EdInsights
March 11, 2019

This is the third in a series of blogs about efforts to eliminate equity gaps in the CSU. Thad Nodine describes the equity work underway on CSU campuses, based on their participation in the Middle Leadership Academy, a professional learning program that is supporting teams of CSU faculty, staff, and administrators in addressing equity-based opportunity and outcomes gaps on their campus. The blog also describes the Academy’s approach in creating a space where campus teams in the CSU come together to learn from colleagues and other campuses.

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Strengthening Education Partnerships, Data Sharing, and Equity-based Inquiry in the CSU

By Thad Nodine, Senior Fellow, EdInsights
January 29, 2019
In the second in a series of blogs about efforts to eliminate equity gaps in the CSU, Thad Nodine reports on the CSU Network’s fall Convening focusing on regional education partnerships and the use of data sharing to support equity-based inquiry and outcomes on CSU campuses. Sacramento State President Robert S. Nelsen and Sacramento City Unified School District Superintendent Jorge A. Aguilar spoke to the gathered teams about the role of partnerships in achieving reforms and improving outcomes at their institutions. Then the teams got to work, discussing how to use the external partnerships to increase equitable student outcomes at their respective universities.

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Working to Close Equity Gaps in the CSU: Interviews with Dr. William Franklin and Dr. J. Luke Wood

By Thad Nodine, Senior Fellow, EdInsights
December 19, 2018
This is the first in a series of blogs to share information about efforts to eliminate equity gaps in the CSU. Thad Nodine separately interviewed two leaders in higher education who have dedicated their professional lives to understanding and addressing equity issues. Dr. William Franklin is vice president for student affairs at CSU Dominguez Hills. He currently spearheads a mentoring program for African American and Latino young men called the Male Success Alliance. Dr. J. Luke Wood is associate vice president for faculty diversity and inclusion and distinguished professor of education at San Diego State University. He also serves as co-director of the Community College Equity Assessment Lab.

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First-year Momentum-What it is and Why it Matters

By Melinda Karp, Consultant, EdInsights and the CSU Student Success Network, and Founder, Phase Two Advisory
September 24, 2018
The term “first-year momentum” comes up a lot these days in higher education discussions about how to improve student success. After all, we have long known that the first year of college is critical to support student persistence and, ultimately, to lead to timely graduation. Isn’t tracking first-semester and first-year retention sufficient to understand and address student momentum and related equity gaps?

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CSU Student Success Network Annual Report 2017-18

August 2018
The California State University (CSU) Student Success Network complements student success efforts underway in the CSU by offering forums for sustained, cross-campus, cross-role, professional learning opportunities for “middle leaders”—faculty, staff, and administrators at the campus level who work closely with students. Student participation is welcomed and encouraged. In its second year as a state-supported effort, the Network released its first two publications, launched the Middle Leadership Academy, supported two convenings hosted by CSU campuses, engaged an external developmental evaluator, launched a blog to share evidence-based information from across the system, and continued to cultivate key relationships within the CSU.

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CSU Student Success Network Annual Report 2016-17

August 2017
The CSU Student Success Network completed its first year of operation as a state-supported effort (in addition to funding from the Kresge and College Futures Foundations). The main areas of focus for 2016-17 were to develop a sound infrastructure for the Network (such as building relationships, creating an appropriate staffing structure, and hiring an evaluator) and operationalizing each strand of work.

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Overcoming Program-itis: A Systemic Approach to Student Success

By Cynthia Schrager, Senior Fellow, EdInsights
June 18, 2018
What makes efforts to improve student success rates at large public universities so challenging, particularly in light of committed efforts by faculty, staff, and administrators to improve student learning, progression, and completion?

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Supporting Transfer Students’ Education Goals: The Evolution of Cal Poly Pomona’s Transfer Program

By Norma Leon, Educational Assessment & Transition Coordinator, and Dr. Lorena Márquez, PolyTransfer Coordinator, at Cal Poly Pomona
April 24, 2018
Transfer students at Cal Poly Pomona were historically perceived as needing less attention because they had successfully navigated the first years of their college journey. Over the past few years, CPP began to question this mindset and confront the unique challenges facing transfer students. In this blog, Norma Leon and Lorena Márquez trace the rise of the PolyTransfer Program and the efforts to foster a transfer-receptive culture on campus.

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Campus-wide Roles to Improve Student Success

By Elizabeth Boretz, Assistant Vice President for Student Success, CSU Fullerton
March 21, 2018
Many CSU campuses over the past few years have created senior-level campus-wide positions charged with improving student success. The trend is not unique to the CSU or to California, and the number of online job postings for senior-level positions focusing on “student success” has more than tripled nationally since 2010. No matter which university you call home, refocusing campus structures and culture around student learning and success can be challenging. In the following story, Elizabeth Boretz shares some of her experiences helping CSU Fullerton strengthen its campus-wide approach to student success.

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A Two-Way Street: Building a Culture of Data Use by Engaging with Faculty and Staff

By Adam Petersen, Student Success Analyst, Office of Undergraduate Studies, CSU San Marcos & Cameron Gage Stevenson, Assistant Director, Institutional Planning & Analysis, CSU San Marcos
February 28, 2018
In May 2017, the CSU Student Success Network convened, and Fresno State hosted, a one-day meeting focused on data use. The convening drew participation from teams of faculty and staff from ten CSU campuses. Afterwards, the team from CSU San Marcos (CSUSM) decided to create a data fellows program to improve their campus’ capacity to use data in decision-making. This is their story of why—and how—they created their program.

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Middle Leadership Academy Kicks Off

By Thad Nodine
December 19, 2017
Over three days in November, teams of faculty, staff, and students from nine CSU campuses gathered at Lake Arrowhead to consider strategies for reforming developmental mathematics at their campus. The teams were part of the first CSU Student Success Network Middle Leadership Academy, a structured, year-long, professional learning experience designed to support efforts to improve student learning, engagement, progression, and completion in the CSU.

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How “Small Data” Can Address the Limitations of Predictive Analytics

By Ioakim Boutakidis
October 24, 2017
Inspired by the CSU Student Success Network’s May convening on data use in the CSU, Ioakim Boutakidis, Associate Professor of Child & Adolescent Studies and Faculty Fellow of Student Success at CSU Fullerton, writes about the “small data” strategies his campus has developed to improve student learning.

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Get Involved in the CSU Student Success Network

May 3, 2017
After two years of planning, the CSU Student Success Network has launched, thanks to the support and involvement of many in the CSU. The Network is connecting faculty, staff, administrators, and students working to improve student learning, engagement, progression, and completion.

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Student Success Network Calendar


10:00am 2019-20 Middle Leadership Academy Virtual Session - Session 3


8:00am 2020-21 1st Annual Student Success Conference

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