Call to Order and Roll Call
Thesecond meeting of the Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, August 9, 2010, at 10:00 AM, in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Leslie Combs, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Alice Forgy Kerr, Co-Chair; Representative Leslie Combs, Co-Chair; Senators R.J. Palmer II, Elizabeth Tori, Johnny Ray Turner, and Ken Winters; Representatives C. B. Embry Jr., Tim Firkins, Jody Richards, Tom Riner, Carl Rollins II, Charles Siler, and Addia Wuchner.
Guests: Dennis Taulbee, Council on Postsecondary Education; Jay Box, Chancellor, Kentucky Community and Technical College System; Jo Carole Ellis and Edward Cunningham, Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority.
Campus Initiatives Addressing College Completion
Robert King, President, Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), gave members an overview and report on recent trends in college completion in Kentucky. It was noted that college graduates earn more and are more likely to be employed than non-graduates. He also said college graduates generate a range of other benefits for society such as increased tax revenues, higher rates of voting and volunteering, better health, less poverty, and lower costs for public assistance programs.
President King said there is rising concern across the United States on college completion rates. President Obama is promoting the “American Graduation Initiative” and the goal is to produce five million more college graduates by 2020 and improve educational attainment. The “Complete to Compete” initiative was launched by the National Governors’ Association to make the United States a global leader in college completion. “Access to Success” is an initiative of the National Association of System Heads, The Education Trust, and 24 state higher education systems to close the gaps in college-going and completion by 2015. The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) created the “Promoting a Culture of Student Success” study to highlight best practices in member states. Finally, the “Complete College America” is an alliance of 23 states and 5 foundations to develop common goals around increasing completion and closing achievement gaps.
President King said the production of degrees in Kentucky has increased 100 percent in ten years. He discussed the four, five, and six-year graduation rates of public universities, Kentucky, and United States averages. Traditional metrics include only first-time, full-time bachelor’s degree-seeking students who graduate from their native institution and does not reflect transfers within the system. Kentucky’s six-year graduation rate had increased from 36 percent in 1997 to 46 percent in 2009, while the United State’s average six-year graduation rate increased from 48 percent in 1997 to 56 percent in 2009. It is important to note that the gap between Kentucky public university graduation rates and the national average shrunk by two percentage points.
President King said college-ready students are more likely to graduate. He said this remains the same for students trying to obtain a bachelor’s or an associate’s degree. Detailed charts on retention rates are located in the meeting materials in the Legislative Research Commission library.
Dr. Lee Todd, President, University of Kentucky (UK), gave an update on the two research universities: University of Louisville (UofL) and UK. He said 2020 plans at UofL set high standards for increasing retention and graduation rates at UofL. The goal is to increase the graduation rate from 43.6 percent to 52.4 percent by 2014 and 60 percent by 2020. UofL is seeking to emphasize engaged learning to reach these goals by improving the National Survey of Student Engagement scores. In addition, UofL would like to involve all undergraduates in a research, community, or applied project.
Dr. Todd described retention efforts at UofL. The “UofL Transfer Center (ULTRA)” last year reviewed 66,000 courses reviewed with 91 percent of those transferring. ULTRA has offered services to over 2,900 students who aspire to earn their Bachelor’s degree from UofL but start their degree at Jefferson Community and Technical College. “The Cardinal Covenant Program” created in 2007, was initiated in response to college costs and the challenge for students from low-income families to fund their education. UofL will make a promise to incoming freshmen who meet certain criteria to award enough gift assistance from federal, state, private, and institutional sources to cover their direct costs (tuition, room, board, and books). The UofL Office of Military and Veterans Affairs is an office committed to facilitating the transition and acclimation of military and veteran students from military life to college life. The Workforce Leadership Program allows adults with a minimum of five years of work experience to earn college credit. Finally, a Callback program was implemented where the university contacts students who have not registered for a second semester, connecting them with appropriate university resources to address their issues and get them back in the classroom.
Dr. Todd said UK’s “Top 20 Business Plan” set aggressive goals for the educational attainment of its students. The plan calls for the six-year graduation rate to increase from 60 percent to 72 percent by 2020 and for the number of Bachelor’s degrees awarded to increase from 3,650 to 6,350. Achieving these goals starts with improving student retention from the first to the second year where most student attrition occurs. The Provost initiated the “War on Student Attrition”, which is a series of efforts designed to improve retention and graduation rates and degree completion.
Dr. Todd explained UK’s retention efforts. The “Expansion of Advising and Student Support Staff” was implemented by UK adding 20 professional advisors across several colleges, hiring a Director of Retention and Student Success, an advisor exclusively for transfer students, and a Vice President for Institutional Diversity. The “Academic Alert Referral System” is faculty and residence life directors who issue electronic “alerts” to academic advisors when a student is not attending class, not turning in assignments, or exhibiting other at-risk behavior. He said Academic Enhancement at “The Study” is a variety of resources in one central location to guide students to more effective learning. The BCTCblue+Dual Enrollment and Scholarship Program is to increase transfer and bachelor degree completion of Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) students, UK offers them on-site advising about the quickest pathway to an undergraduate degree and allows these students to enroll part-time at UK. After initial BCTC work is completed, these students can work toward both an associate and bachelor’s degrees simultaneously. The Living Learning Communities are part of UK’s residence-based programming that provides curricular and cocurricular experiences supporting the successful transition of first-year students. He concluded by saying UK has expanded the Programs for First Generation Students.
Approval of Minutes
Upon obtaining a quorum, Chair Combs asked for approval of the July 12, 2010, minutes. Representative Richards made the motion to approve the minutes, and Senator Tori seconded the motion. The minutes were approved by voice vote.
Campus Initiatives Addressing College Completion
President King said that Murray State University and Western Kentucky University were recently cited in a study completed by SREB as two of the best and most successful programs at generating college completion. Dr. Gary Ransdell, President, Western Kentucky University (WKU), said WKU’s focus is on degree productivity. After a student is admitted into the school, WKU will do all that it can to make sure that a student graduates in a reasonable amount of time. He deferred to his staff to give specifics on retention and completion programs.
Mr. Dale Brown, Interim Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management said WKU is offering a master’s degree in literacy beginning in the fall of 2010. He said this will increase the number of Advanced Literacy Professionals available to school districts.
Mr. Brown said WKU received the maximum available grant funds from the CPE to assist in funding for a proposal for the pilot project “Preparing 4 the Final 4”. He said it is critical to establish a personal relationship with the student early. The first three weeks can be the most critical time for a student and safety nets need to be in place.
Mr. Brown said the WKU Center for Literacy will open in the fall of 2010. He said WKU has a strong collaboration with the 32 school districts within the Green River Educational Cooperative. In addition, he explained the math pilot test that was conducted with the students in Warren County, Kentucky. He said ACT results indicated students were struggling with math abilities and succeeding at the college level. After the students completed the pilot project, students were vastly more prepared for college level mathematics. The math pilot project is being expanded to all high school juniors based on its success. The detailed chart and statistics are located in the meeting folder in the LRC library.
Dr. Ellen Bonaguro, Associate Dean, Enrollment Services, said the Academic Advising and Retention Center (AARC) is one of the most visible examples of student success. It provides academic advising, retention services and supplemental instruction in one location.
Dr. Bonaguro said an emphasis on advising has increased, as has intrusive advising (offered by trained Peer Intrusive Advisors for academically at-risk students). The “Learning Center” has a strong selection and training program for tutors, and it offers free tutoring for students in more than 100 general education courses. She said advising by both faculty and professional advisors are a strong component of student success. Mandatory advising is required until a student reaches 90 credit hours and has an Application for Graduation on file. Advisors are offered a variety of training opportunities that stress the importance of advising, retention, and four-year degree completion. The Campus Advising Network (CAN) meets monthly to provide training for faculty and professional advisors. The Master Advisor Certificate program is for faculty only and is in its fourth year and the Advisor of Excellence Certificate Program is offered for professional advisors.
Dr. Bonaguro said the on-line audit degree program is extremely important for degree completion. These audits can help students to “map” their degree progress and help themselves to finish college sooner. She said general education requirements are being analyzed across the universities to determine how many courses are required in each subject category. She also said most universities are making 120 hours the standard time to graduate.
Dr. Bonaguro said the early alert program to focus on retention has been implemented since 2004. She said WKU would share this information with anyone that is interested and it focuses on retaining freshmen. She also said WKU is supportive of mid-term grades and specific retention programs for minorities and at-risk students.
In response to a question from Representative Riner, Dr. Bonaguro said Morehead State University and Eastern Kentucky University are both hiring a Veteran’s Affairs specialist just to handle Veterans entering into the university. She said WKU has a Veteran’s office within the financial aid program, and wants to focus on more military initiatives in the future. Dr. Ransdell said that UofL has a number of programs to serve Veterans as well. He concluded by saying Kentucky has more first-time generation students entering and graduating from college and this is exactly what Kentucky needs.
Dr. Jay Box, Chancellor, Kentucky Community and Technical College (KCTCS), said KCTCS is engaged in the development of a transformational business plan designed to ensure the state’s economy not only survives but thrives during the next decade. The statewide system of 16 colleges and 68 campuses is in the early stages of reinventing itself to ensure the success of its students and the state’s economy. KCTCS focuses on consumer needs and serves high school students through dual credit courses, working adults, and unemployed or underemployed adults.
Dr. Box said there is plenty of national and state data that supports the critical role KCTCS will play in moving the state forward. Kentucky leads the nation in the number of certificates awarded from all postsecondary institutions per 1,000 adults (ages 18-44) with no degree. In 2008, Kentucky awarded 15.8 certificates per 1,000 adults. The national average was 5.9. In addition, KCTCS offers 17 associate degrees that prepare students for occupations that are growing higher than the state average and median wages at the 75th percentile for the state. There are 42 KCTCS programs that are at the state’s median wage or higher. Finally, KCTCS is the state’s predominant access point for non-traditional students. In fall 2009, 77 percent of the part-time undergraduates enrolled at a Kentucky public institution were enrolled at KCTCS. Similarly, 69 percent of undergraduates over the age of 25 were enrolled at KCTCS.
Dr. Box said there are four key service areas that KCTCS will focus as it reinvents itself. They are career development, job placement services, student services, and financial aid. He said that KCTCS encourages students to complete an associate’s degree before transferring to a comprehensive university as this increases the chance of successful degree completions. He also said high school students completing dual credit courses are more apt to complete bachelor’s degrees in a four-year time period. He noted almost 80 percent of students entering postsecondary education are not prepared.
Senator Shaughnessy said this was the most useful information he has received regarding four, five, and six-year student graduation rates. He asked President King to provide the subcommittee with separate reports of degree and credentials awarded over a ten-year period for state universities, private colleges, and community colleges. He also asked President King to provide the committee with the average ACT score for new students at each university and the number of Pell grant students. He commended WKU on their leadership and success.
Senator Kerr commented that universities need to utilize the new tools in technology. She mentioned Skype as a way to provide a personal touch in communicating with students who may be far away.
In response to questions from Representative Wuchner, President King said the data provided in the graduation rates is first-time, full-time students. He said the campuses are currently making an effort to reach out to students who had earned 90 credit hours, but never finished their degree. He said these adults are usually employed, have families, and vary in age from their thirties to fifties. He said he could get the data for this population and part-time students to Representative Wuchner. President King said Senate Bill 1 should have a big impact in the years to come on the huge remediation rates currently being required of new college students. He said K-12 will now focus on preparing students for college instead of passing the Commonwealth Assessment Testing System (CATS) test.
President King said there will be public forum held on September 1, 2010, including all the university presidents, that will address college readiness issues and working with the K-12 system. He said topics will include college placement exams and new programs for identifying and more effectively training aspiring teachers.
KHEAA College Access Initiatives and Outreach
Mr. Edward Cunningham, Executive Director, Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA), said KHEAA is the state government agency that provides students with financial aid, informational services, and savings programs. He noted that there is a direct correlation between education and income. Kentucky ranks 48th in per-capita income and has the 5th highest poverty rate in the United States. He noted outreach services are extremely important because this environment can lead to a cohort who could benefit greatly from higher education, but who do not see or understand the potential value. Education beyond high school is key to the economic vitality of the Commonwealth and to the nation as a whole. KHEAA has developed and manages a very broad-based and extensive statewide outreach program. He deferred to Ms. Susan Hopkins, Outreach Services Manager, to provide specific details.
Ms. Hopkins said there are three goals of the outreach program. They are: informing students about the many benefits of higher education and about the many opportunities to continue their education beyond high school; giving free information to students and parents to assist them in making informed decisions on planning and paying for college or technical school; and familiarizing Kentuckians with the financial aid programs and services.
Ms. Hopkins said there are field and mobile outreach staff that span thirteen geographical service areas. Outreach counselors, who live and work in each area, reach out to the citizens of the Commonwealth by providing workshops, exhibits, and professional development to various groups. She also discussed the “College Info Road Show” that uses technology, such as satellite internet access, to contact students with the information they need to research, pursue and succeed in education beyond high school. She said twelve computer workstations with automatic Internet access allow students to explore kheaa.com and helpful websites, check their Kentucky Education Excellence Scholarship (KEES) account online and search for colleges that match their interests.
Ms. Hopkins said there are age-appropriate presentations for different grade levels. The “Getting In” guide is provided to all high school seniors through their school counselor. It provides information about colleges, technical colleges, and trade schools; majors; costs; how to get enrolled; and financial aid. She said there is an “Adults Returning to School” guide that is a resource to help nontraditional students find their way into the educational system.
Ms. Hopkins said newspaper articles and pre-produced radio public service announcements are prepared by KHEAA’s publications team and distributed to media outlets in each territory. The articles are time-sensitive, designed to make students and families aware of when, during the financial aid and admissions cycle, they should be performing certain tasks, such as filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
Ms. Hopkins said indicators of success include: college participation rates; college participation rate of low-income students; postsecondary enrollment; adults enrolling in college; change in students applying for financial aid; and use of on-line tools. She also said student and counselor surveys are used as tools for program evaluation.
Ms. Hopkins said KHEAA was the recipient of the College Access Challenge Grant as designated by Governor Beshear. She said college access is a strong priority in the state and the funds allow KHEAA to enhance and strengthen the array of services to students and partners. She said new initiatives include new college planning tools, mentors in high-risk schools, enhancements to Kentucky’s electronic career and college planning tools, and providing additional field staff.
In response to a question from Representative Combs, Mr. Cunningham said he would like to bring the mobile unit and park it outside of the Capitol during the next legislative session.
Representative Combs announced that the next meeting would be held at South Warren High School, Bowling Green, Kentucky, on September 13, 2010 at 10:00 a.m., CDT.
With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 11:55 a.m.