Closing the Achievement Gap

In February 2017, a multi-stakeholder group was assembled to contribute their thoughts and expertise in a first ever, campus-wide think tank pertaining to closing the achievement gap at Iowa State University. It was sponsored through a collaborative effort between the divisions of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs and endorsed by the ISU Student Success Council. The group focused on (1) the various high-impact strategies already in place at ISU that improve or impede underrepresented minority students’ (URM) persistence toward a degree and (2) identifying innovative action steps and resources that would be crucial to eliminating the achievement gap.

As a result of this effort, a multi-stakeholder project team was formed to prioritize the think tank feedback and to:

  • Develop short-term and long-term action plans/recommendations (including funding requests) for the highest priority items (i.e., campus climate improvement, enhancing cultural competence, scaling extant programming, services and support structures to facilitate success of special populations, etc.) ; and
  • Develop/identify metrics to track progress on these plans/recommendations.

Among the immediate suggested action steps was the implementation of a campus-wide data symposium, with the primary aim of augmenting institutional knowledge about what Iowa State has and has not achieved in terms of end outcomes among racially/ethnically diverse students. This inaugural data symposium was held on February 5, 2018 and featured UIA’s Executive Director, Dr. Bridget Burns, as the keynote speaker. Additionally, breakout sessions showcased how various campus stakeholders have utilized institutional data to inform efforts to augment student success for underrepresented student populations.

Women discussing about the sticky notes in front of them on a table
People around a table writing on sticky notes