Courtesy of Independent Staff
NEIU faculty and students filled B-158 on March 30 to hear a presentation on Hispanic/Latino retention rates given by Dr. Blase Masini, executive director for the NEIU Office of Institutional Research and Assessment.
The presentation and Q&A session was titled “Hispanic/Latino Student Retention at Northeastern Illinois University” and the findings were based on data gathered by Dr. Maria Teresa Garreton, department chair and master’s in arts in teaching program adviser for the Daniel Goodwin College of Education. Garreton was in attendance to answer questions and engage in dialogue on the findings with attendees. She explained that most of the data presented could be found via neiu.edu.
Masini said that some concerns regarding the Hispanic/Latino student body is addressing a sense of connectedness.
“Thinking along the lines of culture, what the Latino and African-American students struggle with is a sense of belonging,” he said. “It really does affect retention. If students feel like they belong in an institution, they’re more likely to come back.”
In a line graph that represented incoming Hispanic/Latino freshmen and transfers as compared to incoming white freshmen and transfers, over the period of fall 2012 through fall 2016, Hispanic/Latino freshmen exceeded whites by roughly 25 percent.
Masini said the Hispanic/Latino and white incoming transfer lines intersected in 2016, with NEIU, “now having more Hispanic/Latino transfer students than white transfer students.” Incoming Hispanic/Latino freshmen percentages took a dip from roughly 50 percent in fall 2015 to under 50 percent in fall 2016.
Test scores also play a role in retaining Hispanic/Latino students and the data that is collected to reflect rates.
Average ACT scores for incoming Hispanic/Latino freshmen between 2012 and 2016 has hovered around 18 points, though it has dropped to 16.8 in 2016. Average GPA’s for new Hispanic/Latino freshmen in high schools were 2.79 in 2016, a sizeable increase from 1.90 in 2015.
The Latino population paralleled overall first-year, full-time freshmen averaged at roughly 55 percent in 2015.
According to Masini, the overall six-year graduation rate for full-time freshmen was at 23.9 percent with Hispanic/Latino statistics landing at approximately 20 percent. Retention rates for first-year Hispanic/Latino students returning for a second year and who enrolled in the Summer Transitions Program were at 66.7 percent in 2015.
He continued that students in developmental courses are more likely to be retained. “They’re the least academically prepared as compared to other groups,” Masini said.
Percentages for full-time Hispanic/Latino freshmen engaged in math, writing and reading developmental coursework programs showed slightly better retention rates on average than students not enrolled in developmental programs. In 2015, Hispanic/Latino students enrolled in math developmental courses had a 55.9 percent continuation to second year retention rate, compared to 54 percent who are not enrolled.
Full-time Hispanic/Latino freshmen enrolled in writing-developmental courses had a 57 percent continuation to second-year retention rate versus 54.5 percent for non-enrollees. Reading developmental enrollees had a 56.6 percent retention rate, in comparison to 54.2 percent of those not enrolled.
Masini said that future goals to further incorporate Hispanic/Latino retention at NEIU should be raised.
“Our retention in general is not good. Our numbers are lower than comparable universities,” he said. “We used to be at around 10,000 students, but things have been declining. NEIU is starting a mentoring program where our university will be paired up with an offshoot of Rutgers to work on ways at building better student retention rates for students.”