Two Penn GSE Researchers Help Department of Education With College Completion

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Media Contact:Jill DiSanto | | 215-898-4820January 30, 2012

PHILADELPHIA — Two professors at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, Laura Perna and Marybeth Gasman, are in Washington today to participate in the Department of Education’s Evidence-Action-Innovation: A College Completion Symposium.

Perna and Gasman are serving as a part of a think tank comprised of approximately 16 researchers, 24 practitioners and eight policy experts who will help to identify the latest in evidenced-based information about student success, including what works to encourage students to finish college, what has not worked, practical insights for implementation and strategies to overcome obstacles that may arise.

“Paying attention to college completion is one key step toward increasing the nation’s educational attainment,” Perna said, “which the U.S. must do in order to reduce the gaps that continue to exist for low-income and minority students, achieve international competitiveness goals and ensure that workers have the level of education required for the kinds of jobs that are being created. This symposium reflects the U.S. Department of Education’s interest in considering what is already known from available research when developing and supporting programs and policies for addressing this important issue.”

Designed to assist the department in creating a publication for colleges and universities, Evidence-Action-Innovation will examine areas where solid research suggests that interventions can lead to measurable increases in completion rates, such as the strengthening of early academic transitions for students, bridge programs and acceleration models, along with student-support systems such as advising, coaching and mentoring.

“Minority-serving institutions, including historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions and tribal colleges are the key to the U.S. meeting its degree attainment goals,” Gasman said. “They employ strategies that majority institutions can also use with their low-income students and students of color.”