Fort Valley State to explore equity gaps in higher education

Fort Valley State University will be part of a national effort to explore ways to tackle a hot topic in higher education: the access and achievement gap for students from underrepresented or low-income households.

The REP4 alliance, announced Thursday, will focus on students taking the lead in a process called “Rapid Education Prototyping” to address equity gaps in higher education.

Black and Latinx students, for example, have been historically underrepresented in colleges and universities typically ranked among the nation’s best, and some data suggest the issue has become greater this school year. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center published a report in April that found the largest enrollment swing this spring occurred among Latinx students, dropping by nearly 2% at public, four-year colleges and nearly 14% at community colleges.

Fort Valley State, a historically Black university, is one of six founding colleges and universities that will be part of the alliance. Microsoft will help shape how technology, particularly data and artificial intelligence, can be used to create inclusive learning experiences.

“Our university’s mission has long included making education relevant, impactful and accessible for students,” Fort Valley State University President Paul Jones said in a statement. “Collaborating with other like-minded institutions across the nation will provide a tremendous opportunity to shift the paradigm of how we approach learning, particularly for underrepresented communities.”