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Monthly Archives: February 2017


Compton Center – Research Brown Bag Digest – February 2017

For February’s Research Brown Bag, we’ve moved in a slightly different direction than our previous sessions. Beginning with the February meeting, we’re focusing on using these brown bags to share the best practices in conducting educational research. One goal of the Research Brown Bags is to improve everyone’s ability to access and understand data, and we believe a better understanding of how research is generally conducted can help with this.

We started this new series with a discussion of how to create research questions. A research question is simply just the major question that guides a research project. There really isn’t a fancy definition, but creating good research questions is always an important first step to conducting good research.

In a more practical sense, understanding and being able to create research questions will help anytime your program or department needs to evaluate something. Good research questions can make SAO evaluations easier because you can make sure you design questions that give you exactly the kind of data you need for making an assessment. Understanding how to design research questions also helps when you need to design other questions (e.g., for surveys).

For more information and a detailed summary of the last Research Brown Bag, read the full post below. (more…)


2015-16 Student Success and Equity Gaps

by Beth Katz

Recently, Institutional Research and Planning conducted an analysis of student performance in the 2015-2016 academic year. Jean Shankweiler, El Camino College’s (ECC) Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Barbara Perez, Vice President of the ECC Compton Center, shared this data with faculty and staff at the Spring 2017 Flex Days.

This post summarizes the performance of ECC students and progress toward meeting campus-wide goals for student success, and highlights equity gaps between the various ethnic groups.

How did ECC students do in the 2015-2016 academic year? The overall course success rate was 68%. What does that mean? Of the 124,281 course enrollments, 84,624 resulted in passing grades (A, B, C, or Pass). The remaining enrollments were divided between failing grades and course withdrawals.

How does this compare to previous years? The success rate was essentially unchanged when compared to the previous year. In fact, the success rate has varied between 69% and 70% since the 2010-2011 academic year.

Where do we want to be? ECC has an ACCJC Institution-Set Standard of 65% for its student success rate and an Institutional Effectiveness Outcome goal of 73.7% by the year 2019-2020. While we have consistently met the standard, we have not yet met our goal.

How did the different ethnic groups perform? The success rate varied greatly across the different ethnic groups. Only two student groups exceeded the success rate goal: White students (78%) and Asian students (79%). Three groups met the standard of 65%, but not the goal: students categorized as “Unknown or Decline” (71%), “Two or More” ethnicities (69%), and Latino (65%). The remaining three groups performed below the goal and the standard: Pacific Islander (63%), American Indian/Alaska Native (61%), and African American students (57%).

What would it take to meet our goal? Campus-wide, nearly 7,000 additional passing grades would have been needed to increase the overall success rate from 68% to 73.7%. That means converting nearly one out of every five failing grades or withdrawals into passing grades.

What would it take to get all ethnic groups to meet that same goal? An additional 5,469 passing grades would have been needed to increase the success rate for Latino students from 65% to 73.7%. In other words, one out of every four failing grades or withdrawals received by a Latino student would have needed to be a passing grade. The challenge is steeper for African American students. An additional 2,744 passing grades would have been needed to increase the success rate for African American students from 57% to 73.7%. That would have meant converting nearly 4 out of every 10 failing grades or withdrawals received by African Americans into passing grades. Further, African American students would have needed an additional 1,282 passing grades just to meet the standard of 65%.

How do we get there? Many campus initiatives are working to close these equity gaps by providing support to disproportionately impacted student groups, as well as the general student population. Where will get the 7,000 additional passing grades that we need? While it is important to help all student groups improve, given the composition of ECC’s student body, the college will not be able to meet its overall success rate goal of 73.7% without improving the performance of significant numbers of Latino and African American students.

Ethnic Diversity at ECC – How Do We Know Who We Are?

by Beth Katz

“Student equity” is a hot topic at ECC and throughout California’s community colleges. As we work to identify populations of students who are disproportionately impacted and in need of additional support, we first must understand the characteristics of the students we serve.

The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) requires ECC to report data on student race and ethnicity, using categories defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. According to the Census, “Hispanic/Latino” is an “ethnicity,” and not a “race.” A person of any race (White, Black, American Indian, etc.) can also identify as Latino. ECC collects data on student identification with 21 different ethnic subgroups when students complete their initial applications. Using that data, the CCCCO then classifies students into eight mutually exclusive “ethnic” groups, which are commonly used in equity research:

  1. African American
  2. American Indian/Alaska Native
  3. Asian
  4. Latino
  5. Pacific Islander
  6. Two or More
  7. White
  8. Undecided/Unknown

However, we know that some of these groups can be further broken down into more than one racial or ethnic subgroup. Any student who identifies as Hispanic/Latino or with a Hispanic/Latino sub-group (Mexican, Central American, South American, or Hispanic-Other) is automatically labeled as “Latino,” regardless of whether or not they identified with other non-Latino subgroups. In other words, the Latino category trumps all others. This means that the Latino category includes students who identify with two or more ethnic subgroups, and the “Two or More” category does not include any students who identify with Latino subgroups. For example, a student who self-identifies as African American and Mexican is categorized as “Latino.” On the other hand, a student who self-identifies as African American and White is categorized as “Two or More.” (Is your head spinning yet?)

The image below diagrams how the information students submit on their ECC applications gets translated into the eight CCCCO ethnic groups.


What does this mean for equity research? We found that the eight ethnic categories generally used to group students may be concealing some greater diversity. Having a broader perspective on ethnic diversity may be particularly relevant to various student outreach efforts. Because a student’s affiliation with an Hispanic/Latino group obscures associations they may have with other ethnic groups, we may be overlooking students who could be targeted for group-specific programs. For example, a program targeting African American students in Fall 2014 may have overlooked the 825 students who identified as African American and at least one other ethnic subgroup. By ignoring the subgroup classification, we would have underestimated the number of African American students. There is also significant diversity within the Asian and Pacific Islander categories. Therefore, efforts to reach out to different students may be more successful if particular Asian subgroups are targeted, rather than all students who assume the broader label of “Asian.”

Student equity outreach efforts will always rely on students to self-identify and express interest in participating in particular programs; however, this subgroup analysis helps us size up the entire population of students being targeted and could potentially be used to improve the services we provide to various student groups.

 Follow this link to read our full report on ECC Student Ethnic Groups.

Assessment Test Results Reports

by Marci Myers

The Assessment Test Results reports have been updated and are now available on our website! These reports display assessment test placements for first-time/full-time students entering El Camino College (ECC) and Compton Center in fall 2014, fall 2015, and fall 2016. Results were also disaggregated by gender and race/ethnicity to examine possible signs of disproportionate impact.

Here are some of the interesting findings from these reports:

  • In the past three years there has been a decrease in the number of assessment tests taken on-campus and an increase in the number of assessment tests taken off-campus.
  • The results illustrate the variations in transfer-level placement rates in reading, writing, and mathematics as seen in the charts below:

ECC Assessment Results by Course Group

Compton Center Assessment Results by Course Group

The full reports can be found on our website:

Assessment Test Results – El Camino College

Assessment Test Results – Compton Center