San Francisco State University

Graduation Initiative Plan

Impending workforce needs have fueled a recent national focus on both ensuring the learning of students who graduate and on improving the overall graduation rates at U.S. universities. The CSU system has participated actively in this movement for some time, most recently in 2005 with the “Facilitating Graduation” initiative. At San Francisco State University, we know that time to degree has decreased across all colleges and ethnic groups since that initiative began, and we believe that much of this improvement is due to changes that grew out of the initiative, yet our graduation rates remain below the top quartile for U.S. universities. The enormous challenge for closing this gap was pointed out in a recent study (Turner, 2009*) demonstrating the relationship between dwindling resources at public comprehensive universities and the decline in graduation rates.

Despite the clear challenges before us, San Francisco State University is committed to improving student success and to closing the achievement gap. Our definition of student success is two-fold: 1) the achievement of institutionally defined learning competencies in general education and program-defined competencies in academic disciplines and 2) improvement in graduation rates. Moreover, we are also committed to closing the achievement gap by improving graduation rates among underrepresented minority groups, which have traditionally had lower success rates.

The purpose of the current initiative, Facilitating Graduation II (FG 2), is to increase by 2015 the 6-year graduation rates of First-Time-Full Time Freshmen (FTFTF) students at SF State to 50.6% and FTFTF Under-Represented Minority (URM) students to 47.1%. In addition, by 2015 we expect to increase the graduation rates of upper-division Transfer (UDT) students to75.8%, and of UDT URM students to 72.4%. Under-Represented Minority students include students who are African American, Latino, and American Indian. Ideally, we hope to achieve this goal by increasing overall graduation rates by 1.6% per year and URM graduation rates by an additional 0.8%, for an overall increase of 2.4% per year. However, we are aware that the actual changes will not likely occur evenly across the five year period.

Our plan involves a campus-wide effort to develop a culture of graduation rather than a focus on enrollment growth. The effort will be coordinated and research-based and will target specific critical areas that we believe will lead to both improved graduation rates and assurance of student learning. Specific targeted areas include revision of General Education, academic advising, enrollment controls, academic interventions, assessment of services and learning, financial incentives, and new technologies. Descriptions of the specific actions are provided in the sections that follow.

*Turner, et al. 2009. “Why Have College Completion Rates Declined, an Analysis of Changing Student Preparation and Collegiate Resources.” National Bureau of Economic Research


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