2013 Winners

Davidson County Community College

Community College, North Carolina
An Achieving the Dream and Completion by Design participant

Davidson County Community College To meet DCCC’s Strategic Plan goal of “student success through retention,” a cross-campus Student Success Team oversees a first-year experience program that uses the Starfish system and a case management model for centralized, intrusive advising. With the Starfish system, instructors raise flags to notify students and advisors of concerns, and advisors use the Starfish system to create Academic Success Plans to provide effective guidance for students on academic alert or probation. DCCC can identify students who most need additional resources, and help students to access those resources on their own time. Using the Starfish system has become part of the culture at DCCC, resulting in high faculty adoption, satisfied students, and measurable improvements in course retention rates.

Some of DCCC’s successes include:

  • The Fall 2012 First-Year Experience Survey revealed that 82% of students thought the Starfish system had helped them that semester.
  • In Spring 2013, 98% of faculty submitted the midterm Student Progress Survey through the Starfish system.
  • In Spring 2013, faculty raised 10,529 flags, and 3,751 students received alerts and/or kudos through the Starfish system.

Harper College

Community College, Illinois
An Achieving the Dream participant

Harper College Harper College’s Strategic/Student Success Plan determined that first-year students enrolled in two or more developmental courses were less likely to complete their programs than other students. To address this achievement gap, Harper launched “Project Success” in 2011. “Project Success” allows faculty to identify academic concerns through the Starfish system, then notify the student and his or her counselors to facilitate follow-up appointments. Counselors use the Starfish system to manage their caseloads, communicate with students, and refer students to additional resources.

During the two-year pilot implementation of "Project Success":

  • In the first year, 56% of students were flagged for concern. Of that group of students, 77% met with a counselor during that semester.
  • 58.6% of students who met with a counselor after receiving an alert notification successfully completed their coursework that term. Of students who had been alerted but did not follow-up with a counselor meeting; only 28.2% completed their coursework.
  • In the program’s first year, the fall-to-spring persistence for students in the pilot cohort was 80%, nearly 10 percentage points higher than the college average.

Paul Smith's College

Private College, New York

Paul Smith's College Paul Smith's College uses the Starfish system to support academic success for all students. The College's strategy centers on three levels of alert flags: informational, action, and urgent. With this method, students with academic or other challenges are quickly identified and referred to the appropriate support services, and advisors and administrators can intervene quickly and appropriately. Paul Smith’s College credits the Starfish system with the ability to collect campus-wide data and convert it to actionable information for coordinated student outreach and intervention.

Since implementing the Starfish system:

  • The first-time student retention rate has increased from 62% to 71.5%.
  • The percentage of Associate Degree-seeking students graduating in two years has increased 34% from the prior three-year average.
  • Over the past five terms, the retention efforts at Paul Smith’s College have generated more than three million dollars in additional net student revenue.

2013 Rising Stars

Cincinnati State Technical and Community College

Community College, Ohio
An Achieving the Dream participant

Cincinnati State Technical and Community College Cincinnati State Technical and Community College (CSTCC) implemented the Starfish system in Spring 2013. 83% of instructors in the pilot program chose to participate in the first midterm Progress Survey. By 2015, CSTCC hopes to use the Starfish system to improve developmental math completion rates, increase the number of merit scholarships awarded to first-time full-time students, and increase both the first-to-second year retention rate and the graduation rate.


Leeward Community College

Community College, Hawai`i
An Achieving the Dream participant and UHCC Innovation Fund Grant recipient

Leeward Community College To align with the University of Hawai`i’s Strategic Plan, Leeward Community College created the Maka`ala (“with eyes wide open”) initiative in 2010. Since the Starfish system became part of Maka`ala in 2012, the number of referrals made to campus services has doubled, and the number of faculty making referrals increased by 57%. Leeward Community College has also seen improvements in the total number of degrees and certificates awarded and in the median GPA of first-time degree-seeking students.


Worcester State University

Public University, Massachusetts
A Vision Project Grant recipient

Worcester State University Since implementing the Starfish system in Fall 2011, Worcester State University’s six-year graduation rate has increased from 45.1% to 51% with a subsequent increase in revenue comparable to recruiting and enrolling 80 new students. In addition, the number of students deemed “not in good standing” decreased from 5.6% in Fall 2011 to 4.6% in Spring 2013. Worcester State University has also partnered with Noel-Levitz to identify student risk factors via non-cognitive indicators, and in the Fall 2013, first-year students will be evaluated against this model and offered targeted interventions through the Starfish system.


2013 Finalists

Becker College

Private College, Massachusetts
A Title III Grant recipient

Becker College Since implementing the Starfish system, Becker College has seen first semester retention rates increase from 86% to 89% and first-to-second year retention rates increase from 57% to 65%. In Spring 2013, 100% of faculty signed into the Starfish system at least once, creating 3,010 alert flags and kudos.


Columbus Technical College

Community College, Georgia
An Achieving the Dream and Complete College Georgia participant

Columbus Technical College Columbus Technical College (CTC) chose the Starfish system not only for its early alert capabilities, but also to act as a unified campus-wide data collection system that would be available to users, and facilitate decisions to improve persistence and retention. CTC credits the Starfish implementation with bringing the College together on the importance of student retention.


East Carolina University

Public University, North Carolina

East Carolina University East Carolina University implemented the Starfish system to address concerns around academically underprepared first-year students. Since Fall 2011, faculty have initiated more than 120,000 alerts and kudos for students, and a survey revealed that 84% of students receiving alerts took action based on an alert in the Starfish system, including changing study habits, seeking tutoring, communicating with an instructor, or contacting an advisor.


Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Professional College, New York

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai The Office of Student Affairs at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai discovered that students were having difficulty identifying support resources and scheduling appointments with advisors. Icahn implemented the Starfish system in Fall 2012 to facilitate connecting students with services and to track communication, emails, and notes. In the 2012-2013 Academic Year, 55.3% of students scheduled one or more meetings with their advisor using the Starfish system.


Minnesota Online High School

Secondary Education, Minnesota

Minnesota Online High School Although the Minnesota Online High School (MNOHS) struggled with weekly mandatory attendance reporting in the past, “teachers are unanimously in agreement that the Starfish Progress Surveys are the best method ever.” Since implementation, MNOHS has seen increases in course enrollments retained for the entire quarter. In addition, the percentage of students who stayed enrolled for an entire year has increased by 118%.


Seneca College

Private College, Ontario, Canada

Seneca College All phases of the Seneca College Student Connect project (of which the Starfish system is an important part) are designed to increase interaction between academic and service areas in support of students. During the 2012-2013 pilot program at the 3,500-student King College campus, 51% of students received kudos or other support communications.


University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Public University, Nebraska

University of Nebraska-Lincoln In the first year after implementing the Starfish system at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), 14,221 appointments were scheduled across the campus. In addition, more than 47,000 advising notes have been entered into the Starfish system by 441 advisors, reaching 49.2% of the entire UNL student population.