[Case Study] How IBT Achieved Their Drop Rate Goal Of Under 2% With CourseKey

The Institute for Business and Technology (IBT) is a career college in Santa Clara, California. IBT offers training in 8 credential pathways, including programs like Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), Electrician Training, and Cloud Computing & Cybersecurity AOS. Before the pandemic, they offered fully on-ground programs and they currently offer blended learning and fully online courses.


In 2017, IBT set their sites on improving their student retention rate. Their retention strategy at the time was not enabling them to reach their goal of 2% or lower drop rate. Instead they were consistently landing between 2.5 – 4%. To achieve their retention goals, they knew they needed a change in strategy.

Retention Strategy Before CourseKey

Traditionally, instructors at IBT would collect attendance manually using pen and paper. Each day after class, they would turn in the attendance records to the registrars. Registrars would then take the attendance data and manually enter it into Campus Nexus, their SIS, to generate an LDA report. Administrators would then review the LDA report and begin outreach to students who were absent.


The issue with IBT’s process was how long it took to generate the LDA report after the class was finished. For morning classes, the LDA report wouldn’t be available until around 4 or 5pm at the earliest. For afternoon and night classes, the LDA would not be ready until the next day, often not until the late afternoon.


Occasionally, instructors would forget to submit attendance records before they left for the day or would accidentally take the records home with them. These missteps set the whole process back by at least half a day, if not longer.


If IBT admins were monitoring the attendance statuses of a specific at-risk student, they would have to wait until the LDA report was generated to find out if the student had attended class or not. The only other way to know a student’s attendance status was to visit the student’s scheduled class to see if they had shown up, which was incredibly time-consuming.


After getting the LDA report, admins would start calling and texting the students to remind them of their status and to show up to class next time. If they didn’t answer the phone call, admins would leave a voicemail and then text or email students until they responded.

The Problem: Delayed Outreach

Since admins would get the LDA report for the morning classes late in the afternoon, they couldn’t start their outreach to students until well after class was over. This made it hard to get in contact with students because many students were working or had other obligations that made them unreachable. With this strategy, admins at IBT felt like they were always running behind students, which made retention outreach harder to execute and less successful.


When it came to afternoon and night classes, the LDA report wouldn’t be ready until the next day. That eliminated the chance for students to show up to class that day. As Fred Wiehe, Director of Education explains, “It was always frustrating and I felt like I was always playing catchup.”


Because each absence critically jeopardizes a student’s chances of completing their program, having a delayed retention process was holding IBT back from reaching their retention goal.

The Solution: Attendance Data Visibility Through CourseKey

IBT saw an opportunity with CourseKey to gain access to real-time attendance data and determine the LDA for students much earlier. They knew this would give them a better chance of successfully reaching absent students in time to make an impact.


Now that IBT collects attendance digitally through CourseKey, the attendance records can be shared with registrars instantly. This lets IBT bypass the need for manual data entry and collection of paper attendance records, saving valuable time and resources to put back into reaching out to students.


In addition, admins can check the attendance dashboards at any time and see all classes in progress. At a glance, they can see the attendance percentage and the number of students checked in to each class. They now know immediately if any students are absent and can click into each class and actually see the attendance roster.


If admins are already aware of an at-risk student and want to see if they’re in class, they can go to their student page and see what their attendance status is. And if the student is absent, they can begin outreach immediately.

The Result: Outreach To Students During Classtime

Now that administrators are able to contact absent students during the times they should be in class, the odds of actually getting ahold of them increase significantly.


The immediacy has been incredibly beneficial for getting students back to class, especially in hybrid or online courses. When admins are able to get a hold of students and remind them that they’re running a risk of failing or being dropped from the program, students will join the class session, whether that’s logging in online or coming to campus for class.


When it comes to retaining students in afternoon and night classes, real-time insights through CourseKey have been a gamechanger for IBT. As Fred Wiehe at IBT explains “Even then, I don’t have attendance for midday or evening classes. Instead of waiting until the next day, I can see it in real-time when I log in at 7pm. I can get on CourseKey and know if my students are in class and I can start contacting them immediately. [I] don’t have to wait until the next day for the report. It’s really changed the game when it comes to that.”


With real-time knowledge of student attendance statuses through admin dashboards, IBT’s admins feel more on top of their retention. They no longer feel like they’re a step behind.

Increased Accountability

Not only does the CourseKey platform allow IBT faculty and staff to see attendance in real-time, it gives students that visibility as well. Students can see their current standing in the CourseKey app, allowing them to take more accountability for their attendance.


According to Fred Wiehe, when he reminds students of their standing and the rules around potentially dropping from the course, they’re more likely to return to class or show up next time. Giving students the ability to monitor their own attendance record has led to more students coming to class in the first place.


Since implementing CourseKey, IBT has achieved its goal of a drop rate below 2% and have maintained those numbers even in spite of the pandemic.


The CourseKey platform enables IBT to identify absent students immediately and contact them during the time they’re supposed to be in class, not after. As Fred Wiehe notes, “It’s always harder to get them back the longer they’re gone, so if we can get on it quicker, it’s much easier. And CourseKey has helped us get on it very quickly.”

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