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Student Achievement

Criteria, Thresholds of Acceptability, Goals

Southern University at New Orleans pursues its mission by “continuing to enhance student success and competitive edge in academic excellence and career pursuits” (2018-2025 SUNO Strategic Plan) which supports a commitment to student learning and achievement. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) also recognizes that student learning and student success are paramount to member institutions.

The 2018 Principles of Accreditation: Foundation for Quality Enhancement include standards specifically focused on student achievement. Principle 8.1 is a core requirement and states: “The institution identifies, evaluates, and publishes goals and outcomes for student achievement appropriate to the institution’s mission, the nature of the students it serves, and the kinds of programs offered. The institution uses multiple measures to document student success. (Student achievement) [CR]” (SACSCOC, 2017).

To demonstrate compliance with this standard Southern University at New Orleans identifies the graduation rate of first-time, full-time students by three/six-years as its criterion of student achievement.  Supporting key performance indicators leading to the success of meeting or exceeding the graduation rate criterion are the retention rates of first-time, full-time freshmen (1st to 2nd year and 1st to 3rd year) and Performance of licensure examinations.

Retention Rate

Retention rate of first Fall to second Fall of a first-time, full-time freshmen cohort provides a measure of student achievement. Table 1 depicts retention rate trends at SUNO and targets for each cohort. SUNO 2018-2025 Strategic Plan goal for the retention of 1st to 2nd year is to meet or exceed the Fall 24 to Fall 25 target of 55%.  

Table 1: Retention Rate (1st to 2nd Year)

Table 2: Retention Rate (1st to 3rd Year)

Graduation Rates

The University operated an Open Admission policy since inception in which a High School G.P.A. of 2.0 was the main admission requirement. The Louisiana Board of Regents mandated the University to adopt a Selective Admission policy, requiring a set minimum ACT or SAT score in Mathematics and English and other criteria, effective Fall 2010. Thus, all Cohorts prior to Fall 2010 were admitted under an Open Admission policy. As Cohorts admitted under Selective Admission reached their 150% level of graduation, i.e. 3 years for Associate degree programs, 6 years for baccalaureate programs, the University has been achieving even higher graduation rates as depicted in Table 3 and Figure 1 (Cohorts 2010, 2011, 2012).

The threshold of acceptability (minimum expectation) for the SUNO overall six-year graduation rate of first-time, full-time students is 20%. The target graduation rate of first-time, full-time students within six years is to meet or exceed the Academic Year 2024-2025 25% target for Cohort 2019 as it is the goal set in the 2018-2025 SUNO Strategic Plan.

Southern University at New Orleans is one of four public 4 Year Louisiana Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). As an HBCU, it is vital to its mission to serve minority students. Graduation rates are disaggregated for Black or African American and Pell Recipient. Ultimately, it is expected that the increase in SUNO overall graduation rates will parallel an increase with respective graduation rates for SUNO’s native first-time, full-time freshmen Black or African American and Pell Recipients. Additionally, with the support from institutional leaders, SUNO expects a continuous improvement in graduation rates and aspires to achieve graduation rates that will shadow or exceed the average of its peer institutions holding more selective admissions requirements.

Table 3: Graduation Rates

Figure 1: SUNO and Comparison Institution Graduation Rates by Cohort

Performance on Licensure Examinations

The licensure examinations applicable to Southern University at New Orleans are the Praxis exams required by the College of Education and Human Development majors and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) Certifications required by the Health Information Management Systems majors.  The data is presented in Table 4.

A passage rate of 100% was achieved with the College of Education and Human Development. Health Information Management Systems certification was below the target for the first four years. It was discovered that some graduates who had not participated in a board examination-taking remediation courses took the AHIMA examination on their own and failed. To avoid this situation, the curriculum was revised in 2017 to include a course that specifically prepares students for the board examination. The strategy appears to be effective as a passage rate of 67% was achieved in 2017-2018.

Table 4: Passage on Licensure Examination

Job Placement

In accordance with the Southern University at New Orleans mission that the institution “empowers and promotes the upward mobility of diverse populations of traditional and nontraditional students through quality academic programs” SUNO is committed to equipping citizens primarily from the New Orleans Metropolitan area and across the state of Louisiana with the knowledge, skills and abilities to enter the workforce supports the success of student achievement.

Job placement data from the most recent Employment Outcomes Report helps the institution measure student success and improve programs. Although the employment success of SUNO completers is underestimated when only data from within the State of Louisiana are available, this limitation should be noted that data holds only graduates who are employed in the State of Louisiana are included in the analysis. In addition, it should also be noted that data solicited from the National Student Clearing house showed that 27% of undergraduate completers [442 out of 1,630 Summer 2013 through Spring 2018 5-year] continue to Graduate/Professional School upon graduation.

Overall, SUNO program completers are successful in gaining employment. The most recent three-year trends continue a successful employment rate pattern of 60% or more completers employed 2nd Quarter post-Graduation ranging between 63% to 66%. 6th Quarter post-Graduation ranged between 59-71%

Table 5 depicts Employment Rate by Degree Level for the most recent three Academic Year Completers, i.e. Academic Years, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18. Original Cohort (OC) is defined as the number of completers for the highest degree level attained by the graduate for the respective Academic Year. Graduates reported in the Unemployment Insurance (UI) records and/or found to be re-enrolled in public higher education post-graduation were excluded from the OC. Completers 2nd and 6th Quarter employment rates and average wages are reported below. Detailed report by 2-Digit CIP Code is also available.

Table 5: Employment Rates by Degree Level – 2nd and 6th Quarter Post Graduation


Southern University at New Orleans Strategic Plan 2018-2025. (2019) Retrieved from

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. (2017). 2018 Principles of accreditation: Foundation for quality enhancement. Author. Decatur, GA. Retrieved from: