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El Paso CC: When Anything But an "A" in Biology Decreases Graduation Likelihood by 17.1%pp

At El Paso Community College (EPCC), the first year is particularly challenging, especially for nontraditional students—their persistence rate is 8.5 percentage points(pp) lower in the first year compared to traditional (<25 years old) and many of those with high GPA leave the before completing a degree. EPCC needed to dive into course and degree offerings to uncover what may be aiding or limiting student success.


EPCC used Illume Courses to learn that nursing students need to earn an A in a first-year biology course to have an above-average chance of graduation, compared to other students in this course. Students who withdraw or earn less than an A may continue to persist but are only 54.1% likely to graduate, whereas A students have a 71.2% graduation likelihood.


EPCC is coordinating outreach and services to help nursing students to improve mastery of foundational material, enhancing their likelihood of a successful educational outcome. These insights are also informing the work EPCC is doing as part of the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) “Pathways Project,” in which instructional leaders are mapping out six “meta majors” that include the 140 degrees offered by EPCC.


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