Universities Use Software That Assigns Race as a High Impact Predictor of Student Success or Failure

Colleges and universities have made concerted efforts in recent years to increase retention and graduation rates in order to boost their rankings, attract more students, and grant more degrees. Improvements in these numbers can boost state appropriations for some public colleges and universities.

A new study by The Markup has found that major universities are using a software program from EAB to predict a student’s probability of success or failure in college. One factor that is included in some universities’ predictive model reports is race.

The study found that more than 500 universities across the country use risk algorithms to evaluate their students. The Markup‘s analysis found “large disparities in how the software treats students of different races, and the disparity is particularly stark for Black students, who were deemed high risk at as much as quadruple the rate of their White peers.”

The danger here is that when Black students are determined to be at a high risk of failure, their academic advisers may steer them away from more difficult fields of study such as STEM disciplines.

Hannah Quay-de la Vallee, a senior technologist who studies algorithms in education at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., told The Markup that “using race for any kind of system, even if it’s in a very narrow context of trying to end racial disparities in higher education, you can go into that with the best of intentions and then it takes very, very few steps to get you in place where you’re doing further harm.”

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

HBCUs Receive Major Funding From Blue Meridian Partners

The HBCU Transformation Project is a collaboration between the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), and Partnership for Education Advancement. Forty HBCUs are currently working with the project and additional campuses are expected to join this year. The partnership recently received a $124 million investment from Blue Meridian Partners.

Four African American Scholars Who Are Taking on New Duties

Channon Miller is a new assistant professor at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and Quienton L. Nichols is the new associate dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina. M. D. Lovett has joined Clark Atlanta University as an associate professor of psychology and associate professor Robyn Autry was named director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

U.S. News and World Report’s Latest Rankings of the Nation’s Top HBCUs

Spelman College in Atlanta was ranked as the best HBCU and Howard University in Washington, D.C., was second. This was the same as a year ago. This was the 17th year in a row that Spelman College has topped the U.S. News rankings for HBCUs.

University of Georgia’s J. Marshall Shepherd Honored by the Environmental Law Institute

Dr. Shepherd is a professor of geography, the Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor, and the director of the atmospheric sciences program at the University of Georgia. Before joining the faculty at the University of Georgia, he was a research meteorologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Dr. Shepherd is an expert in the fields of weather, climate, and remote sensing.

Featured Jobs