Retention figures like other statistics are meaningless unless placed in
context. Remember there are many variables that contribute to
retention/attrition and NEVER let your figures go out alone!  For example.
the faculty in one state university system were appalled because the
developmental education department  reported a 4 year graduation rate
of 10%  - what they didn't know was that the graduation rate of their
regularly admitted students was 12%.  (For more examples plus other
ways to evaluate your program besides retention, see my book
Evaluating Academic Skills Programs, MM Associates, Box 2857,
Kensington, MD. $40 plus $6 handling: p.o/s accepted until this edition
runs out.)

Here are some figures that suggest what happens when you try to
compare elephants and ants and antelopes. To be maximally useful you
must decide group  your institution resembles.

        CUNY is presently being attacked by the mayor et al who complain
that only 5% of their open-admission students graduate in 4 years;
however longitudinal studies show that 56% of open-admissions
students had graduated with bachelor's degrees some 12-14 years after they were
admitted and 5200 have gone on to obtain post-graduate degrees. ( In other
words, it
takes them longer.) (Source:  Lavan.D & Hyllegard, D. 1996.)

        27 % of the underprepared ex-GIs who entered the University of
Maryland in 1947 graduated after 5 years  (there were 30 students in that
group)- however, 10 years later a follow-up of a an entering class of  350
only 20% graduated in 5 years.

        Studies show that 30.6 % of the students who attended SI classes at
UMKC graduated in 6 years, compared with 18.2 % of those who did not
attend SI.  (Source: UMKC SI Report : Student Success in High Risk

Robert & Thompson (1994) found that as a result of their learning center
and other services, the graduation rate of minority students at UC
Berkeley was significantly higher than the national graduation rate for
minority students.

In considering the factors that improve retention for at-risk students, don't
ignore the studies on
counseling and mentoring. -(See Upcraft, Gardner et al and other references

Partial Bibliography on Retention.
Astin, A. W. What Matters in College. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993.

Boylan, H. R.., and Bonham, B.S. (1992). The impact of developmental education
programs. Research in Developmental Education 9(2).

Burmeister, S. The challenge of Supplemental Instruction (SI): Improving student
grades and
retention. In M. Maxwell, (Ed.) From Access to Success, 1994, Clearwater FL: H&H

Fleming, J. (1984). Blacks in College: A Comparative Study of Students'
Success in Black and White Institutions. Iowa City, IA: American College Testing
Program, National Center for Advancement of Educational Practices.

Lavan.D & Hyllegard, D. (1996.) Changing the odds: Open admission and the life
chances of the
disadvantaged. Hartford, CN: Yale University Press.)

Levin, M. &  Levin J. (1991). A critical examination of academic retention
programs for at-risk
minority college students. Journal of College Student Development , 32(4),

Martin, D.C. & Arendale, D. R. (Eds.). Supplemental Instruction: Increasing
Achievement and
Retention. New Directions for teaching and Learning, No. 60. Winter, 1994. San
Francisco: Jossey
Bass Publishers.

Martin, D.C.. Arendale, D. & Associates. (1992). Supplemental Instruction:
Improving First-year
Student Success in High-Risk College Courses. (1992). Columbia, S. C.: National
Center for the Freshman Year Experience.

Martin, D.C. & Arendale, D. R. (Eds.). (Winter 1994). Supplemental Instruction:
Achievement and Retention. New Directions for teaching and Learning, No. 60. San
Jossey Bass Publishers.

New Jersey Basic Skills Council. (1991). Effectiveness of Remedial Programs in
Public Colleges
and Universities - Fall 1977-Spring 1989. Trenton, NJ: New Jersey Board of
Higher Education. )
(Has charts of retention rates and others criteria for remedial programs in each
public college in
NJ. Among other things, the data show that students who pass remedial math
courses in
community colleges remained in college at a higher rate than those who were not
required to take
remedial math.  However, these findings did not hold for students taking
remedial courses in4-
year colleges.

Noel, L., Levitz, R. , and Saluri, D. (Eds.) Increasing Student Retention:
Programs and Practicers for Reducing the Dropout Rate. San Francisco:

Robert, E. R. & Thompson, G. (Spring 1994). Learning Assistance and the Success
Underprepared Students at Berkeley. Journal of Developmental Education, 17(3),

Roueche, J. E. and Roueche, S .D. (1993). Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The
At-Risk Student in the Open-Door College. Washington, DC: The American
Association of Community Colleges.

Simmons, R. (Summer 1994). Precollege programs: A contributing factor to
university student
retention. Journal of Developmental Education, 17(3),42-45.]

Starks, G.(1989).  Retention and Developmental Education:  What the
Research Has to Say. Research & Teaching in Developmental
Education.(6)1, 21-32. Reprinted in M. Maxwell (Ed.) (1994) From Access
to Success, H&H Publishers, 19-27. .

Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving College: Rethinking the Causes and Cures of Student
Attrition. Second
Edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Upcraft, Gardner & Associates, (1989). The Freshman Year Experience.  San
Francisco: Jossey
Bass (1-800-956-7739).