On November 19, 2015, the University System of Maryland (USM) convened a workshop with the Predictive Analytics Reporting (PAR) Framework to discuss strategies and tools for achieving the goal of improving the graduation rate in Maryland to 55%. Ellen Wagner, Chief Research and Strategy Officer and Russ Little, Chief Innovation Officer for PAR, provided an orientation to the PAR Framework and the art and science of using data to improve student success.
The USM is adopting the PAR Framework’s Student Success Matrix (SSMx) to inventory, categorize, and explore the returns on investment for student success programs deployed at each institution. The USM office and four of its institutions, including UMUC who has been a PAR member since 2012, will now also be members of PAR Framework’s predictive analyses and benchmarking collaborative to identify students at risk.
“Our culture of evaluation and our use of learning analytics have created a new way of thinking about learning. Our focus is not solely relegated to individual courses or processes, but rather to all of the activities that contribute to educational improvement,” said Karen Vignare, Vice Provost for UMUC’s Center for Innovation in Learning and Student Success (CILSS). “Intentionality is a hallmark of our commitment to evaluation and continuous improvement,” said Vignare, who worked with the PAR team and partner institutions on the development of the SSMx. “The process of leveraging analytics and improving student outcomes requires institutions to add capacity in understanding the data, applying evidenced based research practices for the student populations served, and a willingness to measure the effectiveness of the initiatives applied,” she added. “The opportunity to work with external partners like PAR amplifies our internal capabilities.”
The system office of the USM is coordinating the effort to implement the PAR SSMx under the leadership of MJ Bishop, Director of the William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation. “As is the case with most public university systems across the country, our overarching goal is college completion,” said Bishop. “The USM collaboration with PAR will help us to build on current campus efforts to improve college completion by using evidence to drive decisions and actions to actively promote student success across system schools. The SSMx is an opportunity for the USM to have a common framework to help identify, develop and measure intervention strategies that can have the most direct impact on students in the most efficient and effective way as possible,” she added.