Michigan Colleges Graduation/Success Rates

Michigan Colleges Graduation/Success Rates

This Mlive article summarizes the improvement in graduation and success rates at Michigan public universities in 2015.  It includes a lookup table for your favorite Michigan college. As previous research has shown, many students take more than 4 years to graduate but persist to graduate in 6 years.  There are various reasons for taking longer to graduate. One is due to the cost of college, many students work part-time.

The article is based on the Center for Educational Performance and Information report “State of Michigan PostSecondary Success 2015 Report” released on July 12, 2016. The report shows that the graduation/success rate increased from 39% for graduation in 4 years to 65% in 6 years for all Michigan public universities.  

Read More

Improving the Quality of Michigan's K-12 Education: Consider Baldrige

Improving the Quality of Michigan's K-12 Education: Consider Baldrige

The Detroit Free Press editorial board published an editorial on June 22, 2016 "In Michigan, it's not just Detroit schools that are in trouble", indicating that there is mounting evidence of a significant decline in the quality of K12 education in the state of Michigan.  It is not just Detroit schools that needs our attention.  Michigan is now ranked 40th among all states. 

This blog discusses the editorial and suggests that it may be the right time to revisit the Baldrige Performance Excellence program for its systems thinking in improving K-12 education.  Many schools have benefited with improved student learning outcomes, higher graduation rates and better preparation of their students for college and the workplace.   Links to introductory articles about the success of Baldrige systems thinking for schools are included. 

Read More

Thoughts on Variability in Graduation Rates at Engineering Colleges

Thoughts on Variability in Graduation Rates at Engineering Colleges

As universities are celebrating commencement exercises with their graduates this month, it is an appropriate time to talk about graduation rates and congratulate engineering colleges with high graduation rates. 

One might ask: What is the range on graduation rates at U.S. engineering colleges. The answer may surprise you.  Some colleges graduate almost 100% of their students in 5 years; however, for some colleges, the graduation rate is less than 20%.  Read on to find out more about the variation in the 5-year graduation rates at U.S. engineering college and its relationship to first year retention. 

Read More

Future Reading: Systems Thinking in K-12 Education

My colleague Franklin Schargel has written a blog that highlights Dr. Lee Jenkins' book, Optimizing Your School: It's All About the Strategy.   I have been planning on writing a recommendation of this book in this blog so I was delighted to see Franklin's blog.  I want to take this opportunity to say I agree with Franklin and recommend Dr. Jenkins' book.   

Please read Franklin Schargel's blog here

As Franklin indicates in his blog, Optimizing Your School suggests a systems approach for successful student learning. This approach encompasses a student-focused culture and inclusiveness.  As an advocate for continuous improvement in education, I especially like the discussions on continuous strategic improvement leadership.  The discussions of related processes, teamwork and use of simple visual displays in the classroom are icing on the cake.  

Definitely, recommended reading!  

Joyful reading!

Cindy Veenstra, PhD, ASQ Fellow

State Baldrige Programs

Baldrige is an approach to systems thinking and continuous improvement for organizational performance excellence.  Most states have a state wide networking organization to mentor organizations for exploring Baldrige thinking and to apply for state-wide awards for performance excellence.  In the education sector, the effort in exploring Baldrige can lead to significant improvement in alignment of processes and improved student achievement and retention.  The organization known as the Alliance for Performance Excellence guides the state Baldrige programs. Check out their website for the Baldrige program in your state .



Cindy Veenstra 

STEM Index Identifies Progress in Advancing the STEM Agenda

STEM Index Identifies Progress in Advancing the STEM Agenda

In 2011, 2012 and 2013, I chaired the ASQ Advancing the STEM Agenda Conferences.  This was an effort to bring more awareness to the need for more STEM professionals and to network among educators and employers to improve our STEM education processes and collaboration with industry.

Since then, US News and Raytheon have teamed up to develop a composite STEM Index that includes education indices, AP test results, and employment statistics such as the number of STEM jobs in each of the STEM categories.  The components of the STEM Index are displayed so one can see which areas are growing the most and which areas are not advancing. 

The link for the 2015 STEM Index is:


Some significant facts:

Read More

Introverts and Flipped Classrooms

The Atlantic publishes an article "When Schools Overlook Introverts"  .  

It is an interesting article and this particular topic needs more attention among college educators.  

"This growing emphasis in classrooms on group projects and  other interactive arrangements can be challenging for introverted students who tend to perform better when they're working independently and in more subdued environments."

LIkewise, if all the college classes are flipped classrooms, it can be overwhelming for an introvert.  The same is true for the current trend towards open "agile" work environments, especially in the computing fields. 

Cindy Veenstra, PhD

Email: cindy@veenstraconsulting.com




The College Scorecard: How it was created

This U.S. Department of Education blog describes how the College Scorecard was generated, the data that was included and the benefits of the Scorecard.


With a focus on being customer and student-focused, the developers of the College Scorecard talked with groups of high school students to ask them what would help them in their college searches.  To be agile, prototypes of examples for smart phones were quickly developed.  The article provides more information on how the Scorecard was developed and its usefulness to students and their families on their college choices and decisions.  

The College Scorecard is at    https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/

Cindy Veenstra, PhD


College Scorecard Provides New Information on Financial Aid and Earnings

College Scorecard Provides New Information on Financial Aid and Earnings

Yesterday, the Obama administration released  a  college scorecard database system , that will help future students and their parents make financial decisions about which college to attend.   NPR called it a “torrent of data”. http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/09/12/439742485/president-obamas-new-college-scorecard-is-a-torrent-of-data

It will also enable researchers to better understand the impact of the higher education processes on student success during and after college.     Here is a detailed summary of the Scorecard, published by Inside Higher Education.


This article published in the New York Times today shows that there are gaps in earnings across colleges. It is a worthwhile article to read.  


I know of two main aspects of the Scorecard.  The first is a very user-friendly website to view one college, or a group of colleges , such as all colleges for a particular state.  For example, one can select only public or private colleges, or 4-year colleges vs. 2-year community colleges.  The Scorecard webpage includes easy viewing of graphics of Average annual cost, 6-year graduation rate, and Median salary of students who received federal financial aid, 10 years after entering college.  In addition, clicking on “View More Details” for each college gives much more detail including net annual cost of college by family income levels, ACT/SAT scores, first-year retention,  average debt after college and percent of students paying down their loans within 3 years of graduation.

As an example, here is a link to the 4 –year public colleges and universities in Michigan, sorted by graduation rates. I hope my Michigan colleagues enjoy seeing this set of graphs.  (This can be displayed for any state. )


The graphs paint a picture of an excellent return in alumni income given the average cost of college in Michigan.  The average cost of college per student for Michigan’s public colleges is less than the national average for all but one college, while all the public colleges show a median income 10 years after  students started  above the national average (for those students who received federal financial aid). 

However, the graduation rates need much improvement   with eight of the public colleges showing a 6-year graduation rate less than 50%.   Note that most of these colleges have strong first year retention percentages, which is a good indication that the graduation rates can be improved with more attention to retention and upperclass student success processes.  

The second aspect of the College Scorecard is that several databases are accessible.  They are available at the College Scorecard Data website


Look for future blogs on this Scorecard after I have had a chance to look at it in more detail. Very Exciting!


Cindy Veenstra, PhD, ASQ Fellow


Read More