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Starfish Commits to New Initiatives To Help Students Succeed

Although several technology companies presented their approaches to innovations in higher education at this week's White House Education Datapalooza, one company is using its participation in the event as motivation to introduce new initiatives to help students reach their educational goals. Starfish Retention Solutions was among a group of commercial participants that included Boundless and 2U to provide input to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on how to help drive "the development, rigorous evaluation, and widespread adoption of high-impact learning technologies."

Starfish sells four software modules that are intended to help students "finish what they start." Specifically, the programs flag at-risk students based on their academic activities and faculty concerns and connect them with campus resources that can help get them back on track. Boundless offers alternatives to traditional textbooks and 2U delivers online education in partnership with universities.

In a statement released after the event, the company committed to:

  • Providing anonymized versions of the company's data sets to qualified researchers to inform their work on identifying outreach and support strategies that can help struggling students persist in their education. The datasets, according to company representatives, include information from 220 colleges and universities about student engagement in instruction, student support referred and received, and student outcomes;
  • Developing a taxonomy of student support in collaboration with industry standards bodies and student services associations. This taxonomy, which will be in the public domain, will provide a "common language" to help researchers analyze what works and doesn't work across institutions in areas of student support; and
  • Establishing a new position — director of external relations — to enable the company to participate in cross-institutional work done by nonprofit organizations, such as Achieving the Dream. Rosemary Hayes, previously the executive director for the Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange at the University of Oklahoma, has been appointed to the post.

"The issues ahead of the higher education community, particularly with respect to improving access and completion for low-income students, are complex," said Starfish CEO David Yaskin. "In partnership with the White House, we are aligning our commitments to using powerful data to help institutions scale their student success programs to help more students finish what they start."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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