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Computer program helps Richard Bland College predict which students will drop out

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PETERSBURG, Va. -- Richard Bland College is using a computer program that can predict which students will drop out of school, so administrators can intervene. Richard Bland is the first college in the United States to use the IBM program called Portal, which has been used at several colleges in Great Britain.

Using a student's grades and background information, Portal uses predictive analytics to figure out which students are in danger of dropping out before it happens.

"Portal is bring a revolution to Richard Bland College," Cailean Hargrave, Head of Education at Portal, said. "We take data from how they attend, how they perform, their geo-, social- and demo-graphical background and that allows us to predict with 72 percent accuracy which ones are going to drop out months and weeks ahead of time."

Richard Bland College then uses that information to get the student the specific help he or she needs to stay in school. Similar technology has been used in retail for years to help boost sales.

About 1,500 students attend Richard Bland College.