Austin Peay State University apparently now has a computer program that predicts student grades. The goal is to help students become more successful by helping them choose courses where they’re more likely to succeed.

According to an article by Steve Kolowich at Inside Higher Ed:

At Austin Peay State University, students do not have to wait for the end of a semester to learn their grade averages. Thanks to a new technology, pioneered by the university’s provost, they do not even have to wait for the semester to start.

Tristan Denley, the provost, has built software, called Degree Compass, that analyzes an individual student’s academic record, along with the past grades of hundreds of Austin Peay State students in various courses, and predicts how well a particular student is likely to do in a particular course long before the first day of class. (That includes first-year students; the software draws on their high school transcripts and standardized test scores.)

The actual effectiveness remains unclear. While the article explains that in a trial last fall the program “was able to able to predict students’ semester grade point average within two hundredths (0.02) of a point,” technically the SATs are supposed to predict college grades too.

Denley said he created the program to “help students at the university graduate promptly.”

They could use some help. The four-year graduation rate at Austin Peay State is now 13 percent. The six-year rate is only 31 percent.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer