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EDLD 5398 Weeks 1_2_Part 1_School Improvement Action Research Report Kimberly McKay

EDLD 5398 Weeks 1_2_Part 1_School Improvement Action Research Report Kimberly McKay

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Kimberly McKayEDLD 5398 SP3 12 ET8028
Increasing IPEDS Graduation Rate by Focusing on Eligible Cohorts
Community colleges are funded by three primary sources: tuition & fees, a tax base andcontact hour reimbursement. The contact hour reimbursement is a state calculation based on thenumber of student contact hours on the college’s census date. The Texas Higher EducationCoordinating Board (THECB) and the legislature are considering funding alternatives based onstudent success and completion. As a result, community colleges’ graduation rates, as calculated by IPEDS, the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System, are being scrutinized. IPEDSwas originally designed as a way for institutions to monitor the performance of collegiate athletes;however, now it is applied to all institutions. Rather than lament on the IPEDS graduation rate andwho is and is not included, South Texas College must focus on the students that can positivelyaffect the rate: first-time, full-time, degree seeking students who enter as new students in a summer or fall term. The action research report will review that a laser focus on students who can affect thegraduation rate produces results. According the THECB South Texas College now has the highestgraduation rate of similar sized institutions in the state of Texas.This year, because of potential changes in the way community colleges are funded, theinstitutional focus is graduation. The Cohort Success Initiative Taskforce and subsequent actionresearch plan was formed to design and create a series of short-, intermediate- and long-termstrategies for significantly improving the timely completion of degrees and/or certificates by theIPEDS designated graduation cohort. The fundamental question: how can we change our institutional practices to recruit, retain and graduate the students who can impact the IPEDS?South Texas College is designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution with 94% Hispanicstudents (South Texas College, 2010). Statistics reveal that for every ten (10) Hispanic studentsthat begin the first grade together, five (5) make it to ninth grade, two (2) make it to their senior 1
Kimberly McKayEDLD 5398 SP3 12 ET8028year and only one (1) of those students will graduation from college. Census Bureau data indicatesthat one-half of our population lives below the poverty level and one-half of the adult populationover age 25 have less than a ninth grade education. The majority of our students are firstgeneration, Spanish speaking and poor. They are the faces of the non-traditional students Page(2002) references in Technology Enriched Classrooms: Effects on Students of Low SocioeconomicStatus. A college degree is the basic goal in education, and the U.S. labor market reinforces thatexpectation with substantial financial rewards. Unfortunately, Hispanics fall behind every population subgroup in attaining college degrees, especially bachelor’s degrees (Fry, 2002). InTexas, one (1) in four (4) white students who enter post-secondary education after high schoolgraduate in six (6) years while one (1) in ten (10) Hispanics do the same (Houston Endowment,2011). In a recent report released by Complete College America (2011), historic data have revealeda common thread: the longer it takes, the more life gets in the way of success. This is especiallytrue for minority who struggle the most to graduate. The report indicates that too few students aregraduating and that the graduation rates for part-time, minority students is abhorrent: only one-quarter of part-time students graduate even when they have twice as much time. In Rising to theChallenge: Raising Hispanic Graduation Rates as a National Priority, authors Andrew P. Kelly,Mark Schneider, and Kevin Carey (2010) found that colleges and universities that do a better jobgraduating their Hispanic students typically have high completion rates across the board. Theresults suggest that institutional commitment to completion results in higher graduation rates.Colleges struggling to graduate Hispanic students can learn from the successes of other colleges.South Texas College is positioned to increase the educational attainment level of Hispanic studentswhile focusing on increasing the IPEDS graduation rate while changing the culture and the climateat our institution and in throughout the region.2
Kimberly McKayEDLD 5398 SP3 12 ET8028South Texas College’s graduation headcount increased by 53% this year; however, theneedle on our graduation rate, as defined by IPEDS, moved very little. This has been a uniquechallenge as per the IPEDS standard, only first-time, full-time, degree seeking students can impactthe graduation rate cohort. First-time, full-time students are rare at most community colleges. Thedata tells us that the graduation rate will increase by 1% for every 19 IPEDS cohort eligiblestudents who graduate; therefore, our focus should be on students who can move the IPEDSneedle. Furthermore, we need to retool the message to emphasize the importance of degreecompletion before students reach 150% of their degree plan. How do we help students, faculty andstaff “begin with the end in mind?”This action research plan was developed to be used as the implementation plan for theaction research project and the Cohort Success Initiative. It demonstrates shared commitment andincludes the goal statement, action steps, timeline, resources and evaluation components. It issimilar to the Institutional Effective (IE) profile South Texas College uses to implement, evaluate,revise and institutionalize every new initiative. In addition, it includes the human andorganizational resources required to reach the desired outcome. The plan will be used to drivetaskforce meetings and provide formative as well as summative assessment for the initiative. The plan is fluid and can be modified should the formative assessments reveal new opportunities and/or challenges. The institutional goal is to double the graduation rate of the cohort students byimplementing immediate and long term solutions for maintaining high completion rates for thecohorts over time.
 Action Planning Template
Create, develop and design strategies for the timely completion of degrees and/or certificates by the IPEDS graduation cohort.The institutional goal is to double the graduation rate of the cohort students by implementing immediate and long term solutions for maintaininghigh completion rates for the cohorts over time.
Action Steps(s): Person(s) Responsible: Timeline: Start/End Needed Resources Evaluation
Policy and PracticeReview
Review departmentalpolicies and studentDivision Leaders andDeansCurriculum OfficerSpring 2011 –Summer 2011Board PoliciesCourse Catalogs foreach CohortStudent satisfactionIncrease in graduationapplications and rate

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