UVU Review investigates the latest campus myth

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Word around campus is that professors have access to a program that calculates how likely students are to graduate. This system, called the Stoplight Report, supposedly calculates the likelihood of graduation from factors that rank students on a color scale of red, orange, yellow, or green.

Some factors that put students at higher risk are whether or not their parents have successfully completed university, age (over 25 drops you into the risk category), marital status, or if they have children. Can professors see which students are at higher risk of dropping out by checking their color status online?

Although the Stoplight Report does exist, it is actually a tool used by academic advisors and professors to assess if a student needs to know about additional resources on campus. Examples of these resources include math tutoring, career counseling, and the wee care center.

“UVU’s Stoplight program is modeled after the best programs in higher education. Its purpose is to help connect students with resources,” Michelle Kearns, assistant vice president of Student Success and Retention, said. “Student success is UVU’s highest priority and the more tools we have at our disposal, the better and more successful we’ll be at helping students achieve graduation.”

The Stoplight Report is integrated with Banner, a service administrators and advisors use to keep track of student demographics. It uses the information students provide when they enroll in the university to identify students with a color to indicate their need for additional resources.

Examples of factors that would indicate a need for attention include if a student is over 25, on academic probation, a nonresident, or a first-generation college student.

According to the faculty training manual for the program, the Stoplight Report is a system developed by advisors for advisors. The Stoplight Report uses information already available on Banner to help advisors identify which students have the highest need for personalized attention.

“As an advisor, I am always looking for ways to better serve my students. I want students to feel empowered by knowing what resources are available to them on campus. The Stoplight Report gives advisors the information they need to assist students in finding those resources,” said Erin Donahoe-Rankin, advisor for Philosophy and Humanities.

Donahoe-Rankin was also part of the committee that organized and presented the Stoplight Report when it was originally imposed in 2011. Although newer technology has become available to help advisors assess student needs, she believes it is a good system to assess students in a holistic view.

The Stoplight Report is actually part of a larger initiative to increase student retention designed to assist students through graduation. In 2004, the Student Success and Retention Committee was organized to study the retention problems at UVU. At the time, UVU was losing 60 percent of freshmen within their first year of attendance.

“UVU’s Stoplight program is one of many tools utilized by the university to support students in their educational goals. Since the implementation of the retention initiative, UVU’s retention rates have increased significantly,” Kearns said.

Since 2005, UVU’s retention rate has jumped from 40 to 60 percent. By informing students of the resources provided to them by the university, students are more likely to continue their education.  As the student population at UVU increases, academic advisors continue to work with the SSRC to ensure students have the resources they need.