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CONTACT: Dr. Watson Scott Swail atwswail@educationalpolicy.orgor (757) 430-2200


EPI Releases the Institutional Student Retention Assessment (ISRA)

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA, October 16, 2007 The Educational Policy Institute, a non-profit research center devoted to the study of educational opportunity, has released a new web-based tool to assist postsecondary institutions in assessing their ability to help students succeed.




In development since late 2005, the ISRA was developed to fulfill a need among institutions of higher education to conduct a self-audit about their ability to serve students, especially those who are historically underrepresented at the postsecondary level, including students of color and those from low-income backgrounds.


“An instrument like this has been needed for a long time,” says EPI president Dr. Watson Scott Swail. “Institutions want to learn how best to serve students, but they first need to take an internal look to determine what they do to help students and what policies and practices in place may actually hinder student success.”




The ISRA assists institutional teams by directing their assessment process via a series of questions regarding a variety of critical areas on campus, including financial aid, student services, academic services, recruitment and admissions, and teaching and learning. As Swail suggests, the important part is less the information and more the process. “Institutions need to know what to ask and what to do, and that’s what this instrument facilitates. If nothing else, it points them in the direction towards a student retention plan."


The ISRA was developed with generous financial support from Lumina Foundation for Education. During the development of the ISRA, several institutions of higher education piloted the instrument and provided feedback for revisions. Included were the University of Winnipeg (Manitoba), the University of Colorado at Denver (Colorado), Old Dominion University (Virginia), and Augusta Technical College (Georgia). The instrument is free for use by institutions until February 28, 2008. For more information, please contact the Educational Policy Institute at or (757) 430-2200. Visit the ISRA website at


The views expressed in this project are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the Lumina Foundation, its officers, or employees.


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The Educational Policy Institute is a non-profit research center focused in issues of educational opportunity, especially for our most needy populations. Based in Virginia Beach with offices in Toronto and Melbourne, EPI conducts program evaluation, policy analysis, and conducts professional development opportunities for educational professionals throughout the education continuum. Visit the EPI website at