The University of Wisconsin System says its launching an effort to improve retention and graduation rates, especially for students of color.

As part of the initiative, all UW campuses will begin using software called Navigate Student Success Collaborative that tracks class attendance, grades and financial factors that could impact student enrollment.

The UW System Board of Regents approved a $4 million contract with the Education Advisory Board for the software in December.

UW System President Ray Cross pointed to Georgia State University as a national model of how the program has helped identify and support students in danger of dropping out.

“And they have totally eliminated their achievement gap between underrepresented groups and their counterparts,” said Cross. “In fact, the graduation rate for African-American students at Georgia State is 1 percent higher than their counterparts.”

Cross said recent budget cuts to the system meant that campuses focused their remaining resources into classroom offerings, which had unintended consequences.

“And those activities surrounding the classroom that add to and support students in this process often are cut first and those have to be restored,” said Cross. “And the investment we make in doing that, as all research shows, if you do it well you get a significant return on investment.” Read the full story here.