Call to Order and Roll Call
Thefirst meeting of the Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, June 11, 2012, at 10:00 AM, in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Reginald Meeks, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Representative Reginald Meeks, Co-Chair; Senators Jared Carpenter, R.J. Palmer II, Johnny Ray Turner, Mike Wilson, and Ken Winters; Representatives C.B. Embry Jr., Donna Mayfield, Jody Richards, Tom Riner, Carl Rollins II, and Rita Smart.
Guests: Karen Sue Cain, Council on Postsecondary Education.
Improving Student Success in Postsecondary Education
Dr. Aaron Thompson, Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs, Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), introduced Dr. John Hayek, Senior Vice President for Budget, Planning and Policy, CPE, who began the PowerPoint presentation by quoting the statistic that by 2018, 54 percent of all jobs in Kentucky, equivalent to over one million jobs, will require some level of postsecondary education. He noted Kentucky is the only state in the nation to rank in the top five in improvement for each of the college attainment and degree completion metric categories. A handout was included in members’ folders showing the decade of progress in these metric areas. The specific graphs can be located in the meeting folder of the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) library.
Dr. Hayek said the new strategic agenda for 2011 through 2015 will include several focus areas: college readiness; student success; research and economic and community development; and efficiency and innovation. He said the revised accountability system will include aggressive performance targets. One of the targets is to increase high-quality degree production and completion rates at all levels and close achievement gaps, particularly for lower-income, underprepared, and underrepresented minority students. He said the quarterly CPE meetings will be geared towards identifying progress being made in the new strategic agenda.
In response to a question from Representative Rollins, Dr. Hayek said the CPE will be able to separate graduation rates from Kentucky’s private institutions and the public universities. He also said CPE will differentiate between four, five, and six-year graduates.
Responding to questions from Representative Meeks, Dr. Thompson said the CPE will identify at a micro level what is happening at an institutional level. The chief academic officers will meet and share analytics on survival data, which looks specifically at data at each of Kentucky’s campuses.
Dr. Shirley Willihnganz, Provost, University of Louisville (UofL), said the burden is on the university campuses to address specific problems. She said UofL is working on improving the retention of students transitioning from second to third year students. These students tend to drop out of college when having to choose a major. To address the issue, UofL is going to hire career counselors to help students identify jobs and college majors suited to their skills.
Dr. Hayek said Kentucky is on trajectory to meet the target number of associate degrees awarded at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS). It is also on target to meet the number of students transferring credit from KCTCS to four-year public and independent institutions in Kentucky.
Dr. Hayek said Kentucky has made improvement, but is not on track to meet the target, in the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded at Kentucky’s public universities and the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities (AIKCU) independent institutions during the academic year. The same is true for meeting the target for the three-year graduation rate of first-time, full-time associate degree seekers and the six-year graduation rate of first-time, full-time bachelor’s degree seekers.
Dr. Hayek said little or no progress has been made in closing the gap between the graduation rate of students in the associate and bachelor degree target groups and students who are not in target groups. The target groups include income gap levels, such as low versus moderate to high income students, the college readiness gap, and the race and ethnicity gap. The charts can be found in the meeting folder located in the LRC library.
Responding to a question from Representative Smart, Dr. Heidi Hiemstra, Assistant Vice President for Research and Information, CPE, said 70 percent of associate degree seeking students and 30 percent of bachelor degree seeking students are not prepared for college. Dr. Thompson noted if KCTCS students are included in the statistic, the numbers increase to approximately 75 percent of students not being prepared for college. On average, 40 percent of all Kentucky students are not college ready entering their first year of college under the new benchmark system.
Dr. Thompson discussed specific strategies for student success. He said proven strategies include teaching and learning experiences, student engagement and support, and addressing achievement gaps. He noted some of the strategies are high cost and some are low or no cost.
In response to a question from Representative Smart, Dr. Thompson said technology is an important way for faculty and students to communicate. He said faculty needs to incorporate high rigor with high impact instruction. It is known that only 20 percent of students drop out of college due to academic reasons. He said many students do not see the value of education anymore. Faculty should stress the importance of postsecondary education with students.
Dr. Willihnganz said staff engagement is critical to student happiness. She said UofL utilizes student and faculty surveys to determine if engagement is occurring within the classroom. She also said the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has asked each campus to develop a quality enhancement plan that will transform teaching and learning on the campus. She said UofL is striving to improve the teaching of critical thinking and active problem solving in the classroom and to ensure that students can utilize the knowledge to apply to real world problems. UofL students will also have to engage in service learning, community research, and a course that brings together history, geography, writing, mathematics, and political science before graduating.
Dr. Thompson noted business leaders have communicated that today’s workers cannot problem solve or communicate with diverse populations. He said most Kentucky campuses in response have focused on faculty development or curricular redesign around those issues.
In response to a question from Representative Richards, Dr. Willihnganz said the largest classroom on the UofL campus holds 265 students. She noted freshmen math and reading courses are restricted to 22 students and 40 students for a history class. If the class is large, technology can be incorporated. Dr. Thompson noted that budget restraints have restricted reorganizing courses to incorporate technology.
Representative Richards believes the first few weeks on campus are the most important for a student. He also said universities should work with high schools to prepare students for college life. Dr. Thompson said he believes Senate Bill 1 has been effective in connecting the university campuses with K-12 unlike ever before.
Responding to Representative Riner, Dr. Willihnganz said UofL professors are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) test to ensure someone can understand their English during the oral part of the exam. Prospective professors are also observed in the classroom to ensure they have the ability to convey information in a way that is understandable. After the professor is hired and in the classroom, UofL makes sure there are other people that students can go to for help, such as student mentors and tutors. The department chair will refer professors to the Center for Teaching and Learning to receive coaching if repeated end-of-course evaluations indicate students cannot understand them.
Responding to Senator Wilson, Dr. Hiemstra reported that specific data on how many students receive jobs in the area of their bachelor’s degree is not available at this time. This information is beginning to be tracked and will be reported at a later date.
Dr. Willihnganz said 80 percent of UofL graduates had a job a year after graduating, and 70 percent reported being employed in a desired field. She agreed that Kentucky needs a better tracking system for this type information. Dr. Thompson said P-20 data will allow CPE to track graduates who get jobs in their fields for each institution.
Senator Wilson said some businesses will pay for employees to receive specialization degrees. He said professor engagement with students, or lack thereof, determines student success. Dr. Willihnganz said universities should place the most effective professors in the freshmen classrooms to get the students started on the right track.
Senator Wilson commended UofL for offering critical thinking courses, which is vital to business and industry. He also noted that students should never be penalized for having a different opinion than their professor.
Representative Meeks asked CPE to respond to the increasing costs of postsecondary education and the burden of this cost on families. He said the University of Kentucky (UK) and UofL are in the process of faculty layoffs and morale is low. Faculty members feel pressure to do more with less.
Dr. Hayek said CPE is working to decrease financial barriers to college access and completion. He said CPE is an advocate for adequate state support, financial aid, and campus efficiencies to reduce pressure on tuition. The CPE supports the Pell grant, simplification of the FAFSA, and other state and federal initiatives focused on college access and success. He said it is critical to increase students’ and families’ understanding of net costs.
Dr. Hayek said state investment in education is losing ground to other state expenditures. State support for the public universities and KCTCS decreased by nearly $4,100 (40 percent reduction) per full-time equivalent student since fiscal year 1999, while degrees increased by over 30,000 (137 percent increase), and overall cost decreased by over $700 per full-time equivalent student. He said the state share of total public funds, which supports core academic expenses and strategic improvements, declined dramatically from 67 percent in fiscal year 2011. Significant state support is needed to reverse these trends. He noted the increase in tuition rates over the last four years has been the smallest average increase in the last 25 years. Representative Rollins said the faculty is a university’s greatest cost and would like to know the cost of instruction.
Dr. Hayek said Kentucky ranks in the top 10 in state student financial aid. He credited the General Assembly for increasing the pool of money available for student aid from $40 million to $190 million. He discussed the diminished purchasing power of the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) dollars compared from 2000 to 2012. He said the average student loan debt is $19,000 a year in Kentucky. The national average student loan debt is $25,000 a year.
Dr. Hayek said Kentucky is focused on graduating its students in four years instead of five or six years to be more cost efficient.
Responding to questions from Representative Rollins, Dr. Hayek said he will provide him with the “brain drain” report revised every five years that tracks data of Kentucky students staying in Kentucky to utilize KEES dollars at an in-state university. Representative Rollins said some out-of-state schools match Kentucky’s KEES dollars to recruit students, which is better than allowing Kentucky’s students to take KEES money out-of-state.
Dr. Willihnganz shared some highlights and statistics specific to the UofL campus. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, UofL has moved to seventh in the nation in improved graduation rates. She said UofL is also seventh in the country in terms of universities that have narrowed the gap between minority and majority graduation rates. UofL is fourth in the country in increased percentage of the National Institute of Health (NIH) extramural funding and twelfth in the country for being a good neighbor. UofL is one of 15 schools recognized by the Carnegie foundation for engaged teaching and service and recognized as being friendly to veterans.
Dr. Willihnganz said UofL’s six-year graduation rate has increased 20 percentage points from 1998 to 2011. She said undergraduate degrees have increased by 1,000 and doctorates are up from 76 a year in 1998 to 163 in 2011. Research expenditures have increased from 39.1 million to 195.5 million. She credited the CPE for their extraordinary leadership role.
Responding to a question from Senator Winters, Dr. Thompson said some students who need remedial courses are not good test takers. If students requiring remediation can take an intensive course with supplemental instruction, it is possible they will graduate school faster than many students who enter college with an 18 or better score on the ACT.
Dr. Willihnganz said the math section of the ACT is problematic for many students. UofL offers a six-week free summer course for students in mathematics. She said the refresher helps the students score high enough on the ACT to bypass the remedial course and qualify for the college course. This saves the students time and money.
Representative Meeks said he would like for the CPE to discuss African-American and low-income students enrolled in medical school at a future meeting in the interim.
With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 12:10 PM.