Excelencia in Education, a pre-eminent leader in promoting Latino student success in higher education, wanted to create a new standard for commitment to this goal: the Seal of Excelencia!
Seal of Excelencia | Recognition and Accountability for Latino Student Success
While Latino students have become the largest and most rapidly growing minority group in U.S. higher education, Excelencia believed that our higher education system has not gained much traction in helping increase the success of Latino students. Latino college completion is significantly behind other racial and ethnic groups.
Policy initiatives to support institutions of higher education based primarily on minority enrollments—as well as institutional efforts that are strong within specific departments but are not implemented at scale— failed to significantly increase Latino student success. Changes in the policy arena will be important to support our colleges and universities in this effort, but the real change must happen at the institutional level.
Something new, bold and innovative was needed.
Excelencia in Education, the nation’s leading organization in accelerating Latino student success, asked for Songmasters’ assistance to address this need in initiating a new national effort—the Seal of Excelencia. The Seal was developed to facilitate institutional change, close equity gaps and significantly increase Latino student completion in higher education.
Growing What Works
The Seal was based on Excelencia’s years of work to identify and grow what works at the institutional level to ensure Latino student success. The Seal signals that an institution has developed a comprehensive and systemic approach to accelerating Latino student success and that it has made a committment to raise the bar by which institutions are evaluated with regard to serving Latino students.
The intended outcomes of the Seal are to:
- Significantly increase the percentage of Latino students who persist and attain degrees by 2025.
- Increase the number of institutions that achieve the Seal of Excelencia by concretely showing improved ability to help Latino students succeed.
- Raise awareness and action among institutions of higher education to accelerate Latino student success.
- Influence policy discussions about how to help institutions of higher education better serve Latino students.
- Build consumer demand within the Latino community to enroll in institutions that demonstrate success in serving Latino students.
How Does the Seal Work?
Rather than seeking to implement change with one-size-fits-all policy mandates, The Seal of Excelencia! is a voluntary system focused on changing institutional focus and practice. The Seal is designed to create demand in the higher education market for improving Latino student success by leveraging the momentum of a growing Latino population as they evaluate and choose to attend colleges and universities that show evidence of truly serving Latino students.
Colleges and Universities earn the Seal of Excelencia! once they demonstrate consistent success in helping Latino students graduate. Specifically, to attain the Seal, institutions must demonstrate they have reached benchmarks in the three core areas that Excelencia has determined are more likely to lead to Latino student success.
- Data: Institutions must demonstrate that they have accurate data that show the institution’s increasing success against five key metrics: enrollment of Latino students; retention of Latino students; financial support for students through Pell grants, institutional aid, employment, and work study; representation of Latinos in administration, faculty, and staff to further model success; and graduation of Latino students.
- Practice: Institutions must demonstrate a consistent and transparent use of evidence-based practices and policies to support Latino student success. Evidence-based practices are those with quantitative and qualitative data showing positive impact over multiple years aligned with a program implemented in areas where research generally shows greater effectiveness in Latino student success. The Seal identifies institutions that intentionally implement and advance evidence-based practices, programs and policies to achieve desired results for Latino students.
- Leadership: Institutions must not only show that their data and practice are aligned, but also highlight the many ways that campus leaders have explicitly and publicly committed to improving Latino student success. Institutions that earn the Seal demonstrate the impact of effective leadership, by tracking: the quality and execution of the strategic plan and number of occurrences and transparency in public messages from the campus president and/or the board of directors regarding the campus’ commitment to improve Latino student success.
Songmasters designed and implemented the marketing, branding, promotions, PR and launch event for the Seal of Excelencia! It now serves as a beacon to attract and develop higher education commitment to Latino student success.