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Prophete encourages organizations to embrace the power of numbers

How can organizations use data to measure and maximize their impact? Dr. Karline Prophete, interim director of the Barbara Carey-Shuler Equity Institute at Palm Beach State College, shared insights into the methods used to assess student outcomes during the latest episode of the Florida College Access Network’s Summit Speaker Series podcast.

The talk was a preview of her session, “Equal is still Not Enough: Leveraging Institutional Data to Expand Access and Differentiate Student Program Offerings,” which she will present at the 2023 Talent Strong Florida Summit, April 27-28, 2023, at the Grand Hyatt in Tampa Bay.

Prophete, a former educator turned data nerd, told listeners that they don’t have to be data scientists to embrace the power of numbers and find ways to help drive improved student programming.

“Some people are afraid to work with numbers,” she told FCAN’s Communications Manager John Ceballos who moderated the podcast. “However, I want to tell them that data and math can be great tools.”

Prophete, who has 17 years of teaching and administrative experience in higher education and K-12, hopes to humanize data and advised listeners to focus less on the technical side of the data and analytics but to instead focus their energy into measuring impact.

“Begin where you know you have influence,” Prophete said. “Figure out what to measure that is tied to your organizational goals. Again, stay away from all the technical stuff and leave that to the experts. Focus on knowing your outcomes in a clear way of communicating it to your stakeholders and partners.”

An initial data point Prophete gave as an example was for an organization that helps students transition from high school to college to know how many students they served versus how many enrolled in college.

“I don’t have to know a lot of technical science to track that,” Prophete said. “After a period of time, you can go back and ask what service you provided to influence their behavior and decision to go to college.”

Being transparent about data is another key aspect Prophete says is important.

“Since all of us have shared outcomes about student success, everyone at an institution should know how what they do impacts those student success outcomes.”

According to Prophete, it’s also important to know, particularly in Florida, how postsecondary success impacts our economy and making sure students can graduate with credentials that lead to high-wage jobs.

“If everyone at an institution is not familiar with what those data points look like, it’s very difficult for them to provide the differentiated support many students need,” Prophete said.

At PBSC, some of Prophete’s data at the Equity Institute reveals that early college and summer bridge programs can boost student success in higher education.

“The summer allows you to have focus time with various groups of students,” Prophete said. “When students are not thinking about their high school classwork and other activities, you can really have some dedicated time to provide high touch and differentiated support to them. It’s an opportunity to bring the students to campus early, connect them to resources, and keep that learning happening even if it’s in non-traditional ways.”

Prophete holds doctorate, master’s and specialist degrees in educational leadership from Florida Atlantic University and a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Florida International University. Her passion for equity, retention and student success led to the research for her dissertation titled “How Race, Gender and Pell Status Affect the Persistence and Degree Attainment Rates of Dual Enrollment Students.”

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