Simulated Education Experience (SEE) for Indiana

SEE uses agency-based modeling technology by Simulex, Inc., Daniel Kahnemen’s theories of decision-making, appropriate education research identified by a cadre of experts convened by Lumina, and Indiana Business Research Center (IBRC) data about students and school districts. 

We went back five years to track each student’s path through school.  With the results, we can see the pathways of all students as well as the analytical results which show the relationships between student traits, achievement milestones, and specific influences significant to finishing school.  SEE for Indiana brings outcomes, indicators and analysis to a dashboard for a user to track and analyze relationships—by geography or any factor of interest.


Our goal for simulating the experience of Indiana students in a virtual world is to:

  • SEE how the delivery of education is working in the lives of students  
  • Analyze our data about students and their success to show the factors of highest influence on student well-being and students earning a professional certification or a college degree
  • SEE what happens if we try various actions in the virtual world
  • Take action in real life, SEE results in real time, and respond to improve results. 

What influences prevail on a student completing higher education?  Does influence change over time?  What are the milestones to watch or influence?  What actions can we take to have the most impact?

What if all of the organizations who work on behalf of kids and skills share a vantage point on student lives, primary influences and indicators?  What if organizations can test their ideas and easily share and communicate their learning?  Will we find common direction, focus, and clarity about how to work together? 

Would the benefits of better focus and coordination compound our success?  Could we create the confluence of influences and actions that make waves and tipping points and get us over a hump? 

It’s a lot to ask of a system.  What did we find out? 

Findings of Statistical Significance: December 2011

Overall Well-Being

  • Basic needs, education, social, and financial well-being among students are improving over time under current conditions.

  • Financial well-being among students is increasing fastest.  The cost of education is causing more students to work during school.  Cash on hand improve a student's sense of financial well-being. 

  • Social media contributes to an increase in social well-being.

High School

  • Security well-being varies widely across Indiana school districts.  If security well-being is not above a threshold, efforts to improve curriculum and other actions don’t have much impact on student success and high school graduation.

  • 5 markers account for 60% of the variation in high school graduation rate.
    1. ISTEP math
    2. ISTEP verbal
    3. Core 40, 4-year college intention, taking the SAT
    4. Retained in grade or suspended
    5. Perception of higher education

  • 21st Century Scholars have a higher rate of graduation from high school but need coaching to complete college.

  • Working through high school beyond a base level of hours per week has an adverse impact on graduation.

  • Increasing financial aid awareness early in high school improves college enrollment, and improves it more than increasing financial aid awareness late in high school.

  • Several school districts have a higher rate of students intending to pursue higher education than actually graduate.  Sounds like a lot of disappointed students.

  • Research shows that cognitive and social engagement, measured by hours spent outside of school on academic or social activity are strong indicators of student success.  Indiana currently has engagement data only for the state as a whole, not by school or school district.  

  • We accurately predicted high school graduation rates for 2009 and 2010, except for Indianapolis Public Schools where actual graduation rates increased from 42% to 63% between 2008 and 2010.  There are important influences at IPS that we are not capturing in the model.  We might learn something very important by tracking down those influences.  


  • Students from families with low income and low education have the highest rate of dropping out of higher education.

  • Students from families with low income and low education who do graduate have the shortest average duration to graduation.  What can we learn from these students?

  • Students from medium and high income families have the longest duration to graduation.  They stop out of school but have a higher propensity to return from stopping out.

  • For high and medium income students we should focus on reducing time to graduation. 

  • For low income and low education students, focus should be on preventing and reducing stopping out.

  • Students from low education families are even more resistant and more vulnerable than students from low income families.  This is important to Indiana where 60% of college students are first generation students.  Ongoing coaching of those students is valuable and necessary. 

  • Mentoring and communication strategies are more effective at increasing graduation than increasing financial aid, even for low income families.


  • If you know my traits and my environment, you can anticipate how I will respond to events.

  • My attitudes and actions are most influenced by messages I take in, more than my personal experience.

  • I know much less than I thought I did. 

  • The right action depends on the situation.  Timing is everything.

  • We can see how our new ideas compare to our old ideas, and the value of both.

Contact Information

For more information on the SEE-I project, please contact Carol O. Rogers at the IBRC at Indiana University (317-274-2205 or