Mark Cuban hopes colleges will find it easier to keep students than he did with DeAndre Jordan.
The owner of the Dallas Mavericks has teamed up with Tom DiBenedetto, a limited partner in the Boston Red Sox, and USA Funds to invest $ 1.5 million in Copley Retention Services. The Weston, FL-based company offers an early warning system that warns college officials about students who may not be on their way to graduation. Other participants in the A1 round are Bob Dowdell, Steve Fireng, Jack Larson and Educated Ventures LLC.
One in three first-year students does not return for their second year. It’s a dismal statistic not only for college students but also for universities missing out on tuition fees.
Educators and technologists believe the digital footprints students leave in school can provide insight into their academic wellbeing – and alert officials to those at risk of dropping out of school. But all too often, pulling this data can be just as painful as pulling your teeth, says Edward Gilmore, the company’s chief technology officer. “If you don’t look at this data, you are missing out on signals of who is at risk,” he tells EdSurge.
Founded in 2011, Copley Retention Systems provides a platform that connects to various tools used by universities – including student information systems and learning management systems like Canvas – and analyzes a combination of over 20 data points to identify students at risk of dropping out the end.
There isn’t a single indicator of student success, says Gilmore. “Every school is different about what it wants to monitor,” which could include a combination of financial aid, GPA, test scores, and other information. Because of this, the company customizes reports and dashboards to show data that each school deems most valuable. Consultants receive automated notifications of students who may need more attention and can schedule virtual meetings.
Gilmore is reluctant to suggest that Copley is currently predicting success or failure: “Our first step is to pull the veil back and help institutions understand what data they have.”
The company does not disclose the number of schools it has worked with, only that they are “in public universities, community colleges, private colleges, and company-owned schools,” said President and Co-Founder Keith Clougherty. The metrics he watches most closely are the number of interventions by counselors and students, the dropout rate, and the course completion rate. “Failures usually happen one course at a time,” he observes.
According to his brother Edward Clougherty, who is the company’s VP of Retention Services, Copley’s humble growth strategy is based on Mark Cuban’s specific instruction to us to expand our list of customer schools more slowly, to identify and help each student, rather than fast growth and a failure to identify and allocate resources for each student in need. “
Predicting college success is hot business, and the industry has seen major consolidations this year. In February, Starfish Retention Solutions and GradesFirst, respectively, were acquired by Hobsons and Education Advisory Board, two companies trying to improve graduation rates. Earlier this week, Uversity was bought by TargetX, both of which provide data analytics to help colleges increase student recruitment and retention. Learning management systems like Desire2Learn also have their own tools for student success.
This need is also becoming increasingly felt at the K-12 level, with startups like LearnSprout developing early warning systems that use student information systems for signs that can help elementary and high school students stay on track.
Keeping students in school is a top priority, and these tools can free up valuable time for overworked counselors. According to a 2011 survey, there are between 233 and 600 students for every college advisor. Equally worrying is the ratio in high schools, at nearly 500 to 1.
“We want more students to get involved in the classroom and graduate,” says Gilmore. “It’s about providing the consultants with the right tools to make this possible.” The company currently employs 20 people and would like to use the new funds to hire another 10.
Editor’s note: We’ve corrected history to include Educated Ventures as an investor.