Estrella Mountain Community College Expands Usage of Starfish Following Successful Pilot Program

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Institution Providing Timely Student Services to Rapidly Growing Student Population

Starfish is offering us an effective technology platform from which to identify those students who need help and then keep track of our efforts to intervene and provide support.

(PRWEB) September 21, 2010 -- Starfish Retention Solutions, Inc., a leading provider of student success systems, announced today that Estrella Mountain Community College(EMCC), a Maricopa Community College, has committed to expanding its use of Starfish® following a Spring 2010 pilot program. The institution is leveraging the technology to reach students with the help they need, when they need it, while also reengaging faculty in the institution’s student success initiatives.

“It is important that we provide systems and tools to our faculty and student services personnel that support our efforts to foster a student success culture,” said Dr. Bryan Tippett, vice president of academic affairs for EMCC. “Starfish is offering us an effective technology platform from which to identify those students who need help and then keep track of our efforts to intervene and provide support.”

Estrella Mountain Community College enrolls approximately 15,000 students annually and is master planned to be a large comprehensive learning college of more than 40,000 students. Because EMCC is an open enrollment institution, a large number of students enter the college needing to complete developmental courses in English, math and/or reading prior to beginning college-level courses. This reality, when coupled with the institution’s continuous growth, has resulted in an increasing number of students needing early intervention.

“Our goal at EMCC is to ultimately improve our student success rate, as measured by course completion, retention and graduation metrics,” said Dr. Lauren Shellenbarger, dean of student services. “To do this, we need to be able to focus on actually delivering services to students that need help — rather than spending time on the administrative process. The reporting function of Starfish also means we can easily track the effectiveness of interventions.”

During the Spring 2010 pilot, faculty members used Starfish to easily raise a concern on a student from a list of predefined issues including tardiness, absences and academic concerns. Once an issue was raised, the Starfish system sent the flag to the appropriate service provider, such as a tutor or counselor, who then connected with the student. During the pilot, 98 percent of the faculty concerns resulted in referrals to tutoring, a significant increase over referrals in previous academic terms. In the Fall of 2010, EMCC will expand its use of Starfish by sending e-mail–based surveys to faculty members to proactively request feedback on students. Starfish will also automatically review student performance as recorded in the online Grade Center within the Blackboard course management system for online courses.

“Starfish is enabling EMCC to work more closely with faculty to solicit feedback about their students. The fact that Starfish automatically delivers that feedback to the service providers on campus makes timely intervention possible. Faculty confidence in the system is increasing as service providers close the loop to inform faculty that their student referrals are being addressed,” added Ms. Joyce Jackson, dean of academic affairs.

Accessible with a single login to an institution’s student information system, portal system or course management system (e.g., Blackboard, WebCT or ANGEL), Starfish is a collection of two software systems. Starfish EARLY ALERT™ is an early-warning and student-tracking system that makes it possible for instructors, advisors and academic staff to identify at-risk students in real time. Starfish CONNECT™, an education support networking system, helps students access a personalized contact list of instructors, advisors and counselors who are dedicated to helping them succeed. Together, the systems generate valuable performance and resource utilization data for the institution, which helps optimize future service offerings.

“Starfish Retention Solutions is proud to have the opportunity to work with Estrella Mountain Community College as they revamp their student success programs,” said David Yaskin, CEO and founder of Starfish Retention Solutions. “The team at EMCC has been instrumental in defining the practical needs behind a number of our new product features. We are grateful for their guidance and innovative perspectives on leveraging technology to support student success initiatives.”

About Starfish Retention Solutions
Starfish Retention Solutions is a leading provider of student success systems. The company offers a collection of software solutions that harness the power of the campus community in order to engage, motivate and graduate more students — securing valuable tuition revenue through student retention. Specifically, the solutions help institutions identify at-risk students in real time, based on their daily course work performance and faculty concerns, and then connect them to the resources designed to help (e.g., advising or tutoring), all while assessing which services and interventions are working. For more information, please call 703.260.1186 or visit


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