External Affairs Division

University System of Georgia Working with Georgia State University’s National Institute for Student Success

Atlanta — February 13, 2024

University System of Georgia (USG) Chancellor Sonny Perdue today announced the successful start to an ongoing partnership with the National Institute for Student Success (NISS) to close student achievement gaps and improve student enrollment, retention and college completion.

Georgia State University launched NISS in Fall 2021 to further its work as a nationally recognized leader in innovating data-driven student success initiatives and expand its reach across Georgia and nationally.

“We’re taking advantage of in-house expertise to give our own USG institutions a customized analysis of barriers to student completion, a detailed plan to address these barriers and, when necessary, support services to help make good changes,” Perdue said. “Most importantly, we’re working to provide the best foundation that helps more students be successful. There really is no higher priority than to make sure our students, our #1 customers, achieve their dream of a college education.”

Led by founding executive director Dr. Timothy M. Renick, the team at NISS helps colleges and institutions identify and resolve institution barriers to college completion. The institute uses hands-on experience to help institutions successfully design, implement and scale transformative student-support systems. Since its launch, NISS overall has worked with more than 70 institutions and seven state systems.

NISS offers services that include a six-month-long “diagnostic and playbook” that results in a customized analysis of challenges to student success and a detailed plan to address these barriers. The diagnostic and playbook are required first-steps of all of NISS’ partners.

NISS’ implementation support services then provide intensive coaching to help institutions overcome those challenges for a period of one to three years, including live coaching sessions, site visits, webinars with subject matter experts and digital courses and materials. The institute also conducts data-based outcome assessments to track institutions’ progress.

To date, seven of USG’s 26 public colleges and universities have partnered with NISS to complete diagnostic and playbook work:

  • Albany State University
  • Fort Valley State University
  • Georgia Southern University
  • Kennesaw State University
  • Savannah State University
  • University of West Georgia
  • Valdosta State University

Five of the seven, including Albany State, Fort Valley State, Georgia Southern, Kennesaw State and Savannah State universities are now working with NISS on implementation support.

So far, all seven institutions have experienced impressive increases in student retention rates, with rates between Fall 2022 and Fall 2023 increasing anywhere between 3.9 (University of West Georgia) to 14.9 (Albany State University) percentage points. The seven schools’ one-year retention-rate increases averaged 6.7 points.

Two additional USG institutions, Columbus State University and the University of North Georgia, are currently engaged in the diagnostic and playbook process.

Perdue said today that USG is now working to see how many more institutions can take advantage of the opportunity to work with NISS and accelerate the efforts all institutions have already been engaged in to enhance student success.

This includes several ongoing systemwide USG initiatives designed to promote degree completion, including the Momentum Approach program, which starts in the first year of college in students’ progression toward degree completion and career success.

Other programs include those that use predictive analytics to more quickly alert advisors to lagging student performance and provide “degree roadmaps” to help students avoid spending time and money in courses that do not count toward their degree.

A Career Resource Planning Platform announced in Spring 2023 also assists students with specific job services and career guidance, including potential degrees to pursue, job opportunities and salary ranges based on a student’s interests.

To help students and families make informed decisions about college affordability and value, USG in 2022 also launched a website called Georgia Degrees Pay.

Georgia Degrees Pay provides data on everything from student success, costs, affordability and earning potential — allowing stakeholders to access data comparing student progress, success rates, borrowing, debt and average earnings by degree for every USG institution.

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