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EPI Introduces FastTrack - A New Student Tracking Data System

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA, June 22, 2006 - The Educational Policy Institute (EPI), in partnership with Polaris Research Associates, announced earlier today the release of FastTrack, a student-tracking data system designed to help postsecondary students connect with institutions and help institutions serve their students. The information gathered and analyzed through FastTrack software provides faculty and administrators with critical early-warning data to determine what interventions students need to persist and succeed at the postsecondary level.


"The FastTrack software fills a deep void in institutional practice and support," says EPI President Dr. Watson Scott Swail. "Administrators know they have a problem with student retention and success. They just don't always know the nature of that problem. FastTrack helps them identify and deal with the retention challenge on a case-by-case basis."

FastTrack was designed, developed, and validated over the past 15 years by Dr. Peter Dietsche, a partner at Polaris Research Associates and a Vice President at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario. The system is based on research which suggests that student retention and academic success are best achieved by creating a match between student characteristics and the learning environments created by postsecondary institutions. In addition, effective retention programs are those that engage students in their studies by creating personalized learning opportunities and experiences. FastTrack is designed to achieve these goals by identifying the determinants of student outcomes for a specific institution and by creating partnerships for learning in an efficient and effective manner.


FastTrack "tracks" vital student data including high school grades, basic skills/aptitude test scores, and academic performance. Additionally, the system uses validated survey instruments to measure student characteristics, learning and social preferences, and their self-assessment of academic and social strengths and weaknesses. This information provides postsecondary institutions with the detail they need to intervene at critical junctures and more effectively personalize and target information and services to students. By tracking institutional performance over time, FastTrack better equips institutions to make effective policy and operations decisions to improve student retention and success.