Academic Success-For-All Model: Improve Success for Disadvantaged Students to Improve Success For All Students

Hurdles for struggling students are usually hurdles for all students, maybe not to the same extent. A recent article entitled Help Struggling Students and You’ll Help their Classmates, too in The Chronicle of Higher Education by Mark Schneider discusses Grinnell College’s “Success for All Model” to improve success rates for disadvantaged target groups and to improve success rates for all students.

In disability accommodation, this is called the principle of universal design. For example, an automatic door is essential for someone in a wheelchair but also benefits an able-bodied person carrying a heavy load. In our success-for-all model, we used the experiences of the least successful to identify what are barriers for them but often impediments for others, too.

This “Success for All Model” would also be effective in legal education. Many law schools identify a diverse student body in their mission. Many law schools offer alternate admissions programs for students who would not otherwise qualify for entry to law school.

Making this measure the foremost indicator of an institution’s success would suddenly clarify much about its mission. It would unambiguously place learning at the forefront. It would integrate diversity issues into the college’s mission. Success of minority students … would no longer be an auxiliary goal with a charitable or even condescending flavor but rather the key indicator of success. The message of universality would communicate a clear recognition of interdependence among racial and ethnic groups, regions, religions, and socioeconomic classes.