While working toward student success is the right thing to do, it may also soon be a major factor in how higher education in Ohio is funded, Washington State Community College President Bradley Ebersole told the school's board of trustees Monday.
"I'm going to embrace it," he said.
Currently, student success points - including the completion of 15 and 30 credit hours and degrees - account for 10 percent of colleges' and universities' funding, with the rest based on enrollment. But additional criteria like certificate completion and job placement are expected to be added and the share of student success in funding could rise to 30 to 50 percent under a proposal expected to be delivered to Gov. John Kasich by the end of November.
During Washington State's regular board of trustees meeting, Ebersole outlined the student success strategies the administration has been working on since January. That predated Kasich's charge to a committee headed by The Ohio State University President Gordon Gee to adjust the formula to focus more on measurements of how well institutions have served their students.
"We want the student to come and complete their degree and get that job, but we're going to be funded on that as well," Ebersole said.
Job placement is one of the factors that could be considered in the new state formula, as well as completion of certificates, he said.
- 4 p.m. Nov. 19.
Trustee Holly Dexter said she agrees student success is important but is concerned about how it might be defined. For example, Ohio State can be selective about which students it accepts, while Washington State tries to provide opportunities to anyone.
"Not that we don't have some of those caliber of students, but we can't be as selective," she said.
Ebersole acknowledged one concern about the movement toward student success-based funding is that it might lead to community colleges turning people away.
Dexter also pointed to circumstances that could affect a community college's student success performance, like an individual starting a program with the intent to complete it, but instead returning to the workforce when a job became available.
"That doesn't happen a lot in four-year colleges," she said.
Ebersole said the goal for community colleges making sure people who want to continue their education and better themselves can do so. But in recent years, more focus has shifted to making sure that once those students get into college, they reach their goals.
Toward that end, the administration and staff at Washington State have identified student success indicators that include not only graduation, retention and enrollment, but also individual class or program outcomes, job placement and even employer satisfaction surveys.
To help meet the goals of student success, initiatives are being considered for various points in a student's time at Washington State. For example, a pilot program has been started requiring first-time, full-time students to meet with their advisers before setting up a new schedule. Previously, students were only required to establish their first quarter or semester schedule with an adviser. There is also more emphasis being placed on instructors identifying struggling students and referring them for assistance as soon as possible.
In other business
Don McIntosh with Rea & Associates, of Marietta, told the board the company's recently completed audit of the college resulted in an unqualified, or "clean," opinion, with no findings for recovery or significant violations.
The one issue that was reported in the audit resulted in no recommendations because college employees had already addressed it and were actually the ones who brought it to the attention of the auditors, he said.
The college had a long-standing contract for its radiology program with Marietta Memorial Hospital's School of Radiologic Technology. Memorial provides an instructor who does training according to the college's curriculum on Washington State's campus. However, because Memorial's school was no longer eligible to administer financial aid, it could not conduct more than 25 percent of the program, technically putting the college in violation of some language dealing with $75,000 in federal grant funding.
Washington State Chief Financial Officer Jess Raines said the change apparently was made to let each institution focus on what it did best. The issue was remedied by making the instructor an employee of the college as well.
"All we had to do was amend the agreement," he said.