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Middle States officials laud Chesapeake’s SAIL

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Members of College Board’s Middle States Regional Council believe they got their money’s worth – and more – from Chesapeake College’s innovative retention program, Success and Interactive Learning (SAIL).

"I think this is a model program that needs to be replicated across the country," said Middle States Regional Council Chair-elect Dr. Fred Wille, whose group awarded Chesapeake College a $5,000 grant to help launch SAIL last spring. "This program is centered around the idea that students not only need access to education, they also need multiple support resources to building stronger pathways to success."

The program emphasized "front-loading" student recognition of available support services, providing structured and comprehensive programming, and tying financial incentives to program completion and academic success. Students who completed the program in Fall 2004 and earned qualifying quality-point averages received $100 to $200 in incentive grants for the Spring 2005 semester.

The three Chesapeake College staff members who played key roles in developing and monitoring SAIL – Counselors Joan Seitzer and Amy Childs, and Director of Institutional Research and Planning Bill Schneider – presented results of the pilot program to the Middle States Regional Council last month as a kickoff to the annual Middle States Regional Forum at Baltimore’s Harborplace Renaissance Hotel. The following were among the key results for the program, which was open to first-time, full-time freshmen:

The 33 students who completed SAIL had significantly higher QPAs (3.00 to 2.23) and spring retention rates (100 percent to 76 percent) than the rest of the Fall 2004 cohort of first-time, full-time students. Students who signed up for SAIL – even including those who didn’t complete the program – had higher QPAs (2.38 to 2.23) and spring retention rates (87 percent to 76 percent) than the rest of the Fall 2004 first-time, full-time cohort. The implementation of SAIL helped Chesapeake’s entire Fall 2004 first-time, full-time cohort of nearly 300 students post higher QPAs (2.33 to 2.29) and spring retention rates (79 percent to 76 percent) than the combined Fall 2002/2003 cohorts of first-time, full-time students at Chesapeake.

Regional Council Member Patricia Taylor, who is assistant principal for guidance at Rye City (NY) School, said SAIL provides a road map on how to help students attain their educational goals.

"Too often students come to college with expectations and don’t know how to meet them," said Taylor. "This program provides the support they need to reach their goals."

The students involved in SAIL were just as enthusiastic about the program.

"I thought the SAIL program was a good way for me to learn more about the different activities that Chesapeake has to offer," said Chesapeake freshman Kristi Liebig, a Centreville resident who was the first student to sign up for SAIL. "All of the activities were easy to accomplish as well as educational. I would definitely recommend participating in the program."

"It helped in familiarizing me with the campus in a fairly short amount of time and made me feel comfortable attending classes," said Chesapeake freshman Matthew Grove, who resides in Easton. "The money that it provided for people with respectable QPA’s also helped in purchasing my books for the spring semester and helped finance some of my class expenses."

Dr. Agnes Armao, vice president of academic affairs at Atlantic Cape (NJ) Community College, was impressed with the way Seitzer and Childs turned the program’s membership into one large learning community.

"The only way we’re going to make some inroads in retention is widening the circle of our learning communities," said Dr. Armao.

The College Board grant fully funded the unique incentive component of the SAIL project. Chesapeake picked up all other direct and indirect costs of the program.

Dr. Richard Midcap, Chesapeake’s vice president for student success and enrollment services, said the college’s administration looked at SAIL as a model program.

"The close and creative collaboration between our program creators and our Office of Institutional Research and Planning is a model we are going to try to replicate," said Dr. Midcap. "That collaboration gave us a program of great energy and creativity that also produced quantifiable and verifiable results."


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