When a C Isn’t Good Enough

“Data show that students who earn C’s in foundational courses are much less likely to graduate. As a result, U of Arizona may require some C students to repeat a course.”

There is also a high correlation between ACT/SAT scores and college completion/success rates. 

For freshmen taking writing composition at the University of Arizona, receiving a C at the end of the semester may no longer warrant a sigh of relief.

Instead, some of them may have to repeat the class.

Two years ago, Arizona hired Civitas, an education technology company that uses predictive analytics, to track student behavior in an effort to boost student graduation rates. One finding jumped out: students’ performance in commonly required courses was linked to whether they would graduate or drop out.

For instance, students at the university who earned an A or a B in an introductory English composition and rhetoric course had a 67 percent chance of graduating, a figure calculated by predictive models of actual graduation numbers. But if they received a C in the required course, students only had a 48 percent chance to graduate — a difference of nearly 20 percentage points.

The university had considered the course to be low risk. Most students in English composition (81 percent) persist into the next semester. But the data convinced university officials that success in the course was vital in predicting whether students were likely to graduate.

This is easy to fix: just inflate the grades so that the students are smarter. </sarcasm>