Starfish® Identifies More Than 11,600 At-Risk Students Within First Weeks of New Academic Year

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Fifty Institutions Deploy Starfish to Track More than 875,000 Students, Engaging Instructors in Student Success Efforts Prior to Traditional Midterm Reporting

It is powerful to think that the combination of institution initiative, faculty participation and the Starfish system working together is helping thousands of students today who might have otherwise gone unnoticed on their way to dropping out of class.

Starfish Retention Solutions, Inc., a leading provider of student success systems, announced today that the Starfish® system has been used to identify more than 11,600 at-risk students across its client institutions within the first few weeks of the fall 2010 academic term. Fifty institutions have adopted Starfish in support of their student success efforts, tracking more than 875,000 students.

Prior to official midterm grades being reported, the system raised more than 31,000 automatic flags based on student performance and participation as recorded in the learning management system. In addition, faculty members used Starfish to manually raise nearly 15,000 flags based on student attendance, participation and behavior in the classroom. The combined 46,000 flags resulted in more than 11,600 unique students being identified (with the average at-risk student receiving approximately four flags).

The personal, societal and economic impact of declining student success rates across the nation has been well-documented. Recent analysis from the Washington, D.C.-based American Institutes for Research says college students who did not make it to their sophomore year cost taxpayers more than $9 billion in direct subsidies from the state and federal governments. In response to such analysis, a growing number of higher education institutions are deploying technology such as Starfish to connect with students before a potential problem becomes insurmountable.

“At Ivy Tech Community College — Terre Haute, we utilized Starfish to proactively ask our instructors for feedback on their students within the first four weeks of the term. Research shows that if we can reach at-risk students during this period of time, our chances of helping them succeed are dramatically improved,” said Allen Lindsay, assistant director of retention for Ivy Tech Community College — Terre Haute. “To our delight, 70 percent of instructors surveyed responded within eight days of our request, raising more than 1,060 flags. Now that we have the information, we are utilizing Starfish to document our efforts to connect with the identified students and introduce the services that we offer to help overcome their challenges.”

Similarly, students at Starfish client institutions have used the system to schedule more than 16,000 appointments with instructors, advisors, tutors and other support service personnel. For example, at Paul Smith’s College, a private four-year institution in Paul Smith’s, N.Y., 20 percent of the student population used Starfish to make an appointment online with a service provider within the first few weeks of the term.

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 is focused on helping institutions identify which students need help and then prioritize the efforts to intervene. As a result, institutions are not waiting for students to seek help, but rather are proactively providing support,” said David Yaskin, CEO for Starfish Retention Solutions. “It is powerful to think that the combination of institution initiative, faculty participation and the Starfish system working together is helping thousands of students today who might have otherwise gone unnoticed on their way to dropping out of class.”

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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John Plunkett
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