Higher Learning Commission

Building a Data-driven Case Management Model for Student Success

Otero Junior College

Overview of the Quality Initiative

Otero Junior College’s (OJC) proposed Quality Initiative is to develop and implement a data-driven retention management plan for student success that is modeled around case management support and includes a systematic evaluation and improvement plan. The improvement plan will focus on retention strategies for two essential populations: remediating students enrolled in Developmental Education courses and Hispanic students. We expect this initiative to bring to light changes that will impact all students at OJC. The initiative will require the support of, and have an impact on all the college’s stakeholders.

The initial goals of this Quality Initiative are broken down into three components:

  1. Develop a data-driven analysis process that includes building a retention data warehouse for data collection for all retention efforts. This warehouse will have the ability to segment various student demographics, including remediating students enrolled in Developmental Education courses and Hispanic students.
  2. Implement the Colorado Community College System three-phase Blueprint for Student Success: Planning for Success - Initiating Success - Sustaining Success across all student groups and demographics that involves numerous case management models with the follow-up task of segmenting and analyzing retention data for students enrolled in Developmental Education courses and Hispanic students.
  3. Based on data analysis of all retention efforts, recommend innovations and long-term resource investments that need to be made to align retention rates to national averages for all OJC student demographics.

The development of a data-driven analysis process will begin and end during the Quality Initiative period; however, the process of analyzing retention efforts utilizing the data warehouse will continue indefinitely.

Sufficiency of the Initiative’s Scope and Significance

Potential for significant impact on the institution and its academic quality

In the fall of 2009, OJC began to receive financial support from various federal grants to provide funding for student support services. This support was deemed necessary due to the previous year’s year-to-year retention rate of 55.5%. Despite additional funding and new efforts, statistics from 2009-2010 through 2011-2012 showed a continued decline in retention rates for all demographics of students, including Hispanics. These declines triggered a deeper inquiry into the reasons for attrition and a quest to explore emerging best practices in retention management strategies nationwide.

Table 1: Retention Rates at Otero Junior College, 2007-20131

Term-to-Term Retention Rates – All Students

2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010 2010-2011 2011-2012 2012-2013
74.8% 71.3% 73.5% 71.9% 70% 73.3%


Year-to-Year Retention Rates – All Students (3 semesters)

2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010 2010-2011 2011-2012 2012-2013
53.2% 55.5% 54.5% 53.1% 46.3% 53.5%


Term-to-Term Retention Rates – Hispanic Students

2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010 2010-2011 2011-2012 2012-2013
69.6% 72.2% 71.9% 71.9% 64.0% 69.2%


Year to Year Retention Rates – Hispanic Students (3 semesters)

2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010 2010-2011 2011-2012 2012-2013
41.3% 49.4% 48.8% 54.9% 39.1% 43.6%

1Information in this table is based on All Student Enrollments; not cohorts of entering, first-time, full-time-in college, degree-seeking freshmen.

Questions remain as to why the college’s efforts did not result in higher retention numbers for the general student population, why the Hispanic student population saw even sharper declines, and what changes should be implemented to ensure that future efforts cause real change in student retention. To address those questions, the college established as pilot practices experimental positions for academic coaches, career coaches and a transfer advisor, starting Fall 2012. New Student Orientation was re-designed to be more experiential; group tutoring, called PLUS sessions, was implemented; and peer tutoring was piloted. In addition, changes in Financial Aid disbursements were implemented to include three disbursements spread out over a semester. Data now indicates that 2012-2013 fall-to-spring retention rates and year-to-year rates were up for all students as well as Hispanic students. See Table 2.

Table 2: Improved Retention Rates at Otero Junior College, 2012-2013

Term-to-Term Retention Rates – All Students

2012-2013 Change
73.3% +3.3


Year-to-Year Retention Rates – All Students

2012-2013 Change
53.5% +7.2

 

Term-to-Term Retention Rates – Hispanic Students

2012-2013 Change
69.2% +5.2

 

Year to Year Retention Rates – Hispanic Students

2012-2013 Change
43.6% +4.5


These encouraging results have driven the development of a multi-year strategic plan for retention management, including additional case management positions, a re-designed developmental education system, a faculty advising program, summer college preparatory programs, first year experience courses, and early alerts.

The Quality Initiative proposes to implement these additional programs systematically over a three-year time frame, leading to a culminating year in 2015-16 when summative measures of change will assess the effectiveness of the full four-year program and yield recommendations for continued institutionalization of the practices. The Initiative’s goals, strategies, milestones, and indicators are summarized in Table 3.

Stretch Goal

  • By 2016, year-to-year retention rate for All Students will increase to 56.7%, or 6% compounded over a three-year period, starting from 2012-2013.
  • By 2016, year-to-year retention rates for Hispanic students will increase to 46.2%, or 6% compounded over a three-year period, starting from 2012-2013.

Alignment with the institution’s mission and priorities

Founded in 1941, Otero Junior College was a locally-supported college for 30 years. In 1968, the Colorado Legislature designated Otero Junior College a member of the Colorado Community College System, a state-funded institution. By state statute, members of the Colorado Community College System are open-enrollment colleges whose missions are to provide an accessible, responsive learning environment that facilitates the achievement of educational, professional and personal goals by their students and other members of their communities in an atmosphere that embraces academic excellence, diversity and innovation.

Otero Junior College embraces the Colorado Community College mission statement as well as its own unique mission, which includes creating and continually improving accessible and effective learning environments for the lifelong educational needs of the diverse communities we serve. We are committed to offering traditional and alternative approaches to learning, emphasizing teaching excellence, assessing student learning and building collaborative partnerships to promote education and enrich the lives of our students.

To further emphasize the college’s mission of serving an underserved population, OJC was designated a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education in 2001 with over 25% of the college’s enrollment generated from students of Hispanic descent. As an HSI institution, the college mission is to improve access to and the quality of postsecondary educational opportunities for Hispanic students.

A Quality Initiative project focused on improving student success, especially in Hispanic students and developmental education students, is central to the fulfillment of the institution’s mission.

Connection to the institution’s planning processes

OJC has several operational and strategic priorities in place. Among the strategies in its current five-year plan are:

  • Produce graduates who possess occupational knowledge and skills that will enable them to enter the workforce or transfer to a four-year institution to obtain a bachelor’s degree
  • Develop students who can demonstrate problem-solving, critical thinking and effective communication skills on assessments and in practical experiences
  • Provide more opportunities for current and potential students to learn about transfer opportunities and employment opportunities related to their studies
  • Expand recruitment outside of the immediate service area and employ new strategies to recruit
  • Encourage underrepresented students to pursue higher education
  • Develop internship and scholarship opportunities for students

Evidence of significance and relevance at this time

The model for success in higher education is changing (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/08/22/fact-sheet-president-s-plan-make-college-more-affordable-better-bargain-) In Colorado’s current strategic plan for higher education, the state is moving toward the Lumina Foundation’s Quality Measures Initiative, which means before 2016, OJC will gradually shift its focus to concentrate less on filling seats (FTE) and more on completion rates. This Quality Initiative Proposal is addressing how to shift focus from counting who’s coming in the door to assessing the quality of student experience from entry to completion.

The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) State Board has asked OJC to include in our long-term plan for student success a blueprint that includes three phases of student experiences. This Blueprint for Success initially focused on Developmental Education students; however, the strategy has the potential to benefit all students. The three phases include:

  1. Planning for Success
  2. Initiating Success
  3. Sustaining Success

Clarity of the Initiative’s Purpose

Purposes and Goals

Otero Junior College’s Quality Initiative will be to develop and implement a retention management system based on a data-driven evaluation and improvement plan. The initiative will focus on current experimental student retention strategies directed toward all students with the follow-up task of segmenting and analyzing retention data for students enrolled in Developmental Education courses and Hispanic students, to gauge a level of impact toward improving success and retention within those two populations. As a rural college, located in a rapidly decreasing population area, it is imperative that the college maximize its enrollment stability through proven retention strategies.

To continue to invest in new academic programming, human resources and campus facilities, the college will strive over the next three years to reach an enrollment goal of 1189 FTE for an academic year of three semesters. Based on the 2012-2013 three-semester FTE of 1057, that would be about a 12% increase, or 4% growth per year over the next three years. Increased retention rates are expected to have an impact on the overall enrollment growth of the college.

Essential Populations

OJC has identified two essential populations: remediating students enrolled in Developmental Education courses and Hispanic students. These two student populations form a critical mass of enrollment that has historically demonstrated lower retention rates. In order to reach our goals for student success, retention, and completion across the general campus population, the needs of these essential populations must be addressed.

Remediating Students

Students who need basic skills education are essential to OJC’s success because approximately 25% of our students are enrolled in at least one Developmental Education class during the course of their enrollment at the college. Over the past three years about 68.5% of our remediating students have successfully completed their remedial coursework. To increase that success rate, Otero Junior College has made progress implementing new Developmental Education standards as well as piloting curriculum redesign based on the statewide initiative in Colorado.

Stretch Goal

  • After implementing the changes listed below for this Essential Population, we hope to realize the goal of improving overall remediation success rate by 2% compounded each year over the next three years with our stretch goal by 2016 being 72.7% of all remediating students completing those courses successfully the first time.

OJC will encourage success for remediating students with the following three phases:

Planning for Success:

  • Administering pre-enrollment skills assessment and placement
  • Offering career exploration and counseling
  • Requiring academic success planning and exploration with an assigned faculty advisor or mentor
  • Providing supplemental instruction for those who do not test college-ready through structured non-credit workshops; i.e. Summer Bridge programs

Initiating Success:

  • Requiring a New Student Orientation experience
  • Making regular interventions to identify needed academic support services
  • Requiring enrollment in a student success course to develop or hone skills necessary for academic success
  • Establishing a path of acceleration for students to complete Developmental Education requirements in a timely manner

Sustaining Success:

  • Improving class attendance through alert and intervention programs
  • Encouraging experiential learning beyond the classroom through extra-curricular activities
  • Providing accessible and diverse interdisciplinary tutoring, including faculty and peer tutoring
  • Expanding case management opportunities, including faculty advising, transfer advising, academic coaching and career counseling and coaching
  • Encouraging participation in Student Life activities to broaden their social connection to the campus community

Hispanic Students

Research has shown that over the past three years, the year-to-year retention rate for Hispanic students has ranged from 54.9% to 43.6%, with a significant decline in 2011-2012 of 39.1%. We also know that 38% of our remediating students are of Hispanic descent and their success rate in Developmental Education classes is 71%.

Stretch Goal

  • After implementing the changes listed below for this Essential Population, we hope to realize the goal of improving overall retention rates for Hispanics by 2% compounded each year over the next three years with our 2016 stretch goal of 46.2% of Hispanic students being retained from year-to-year.

  • For Hispanic students enrolled in Developmental Education courses, we hope to increase their success rate by 1.5% compounded for the next three years to bring their success rate up to 74.2% for completing Developmental Education courses successfully the first time.

Planning for Success:

  • Tasking the Coordinator of Dual Enrollment with identifying Hispanic students from our service area during their high school years and preparing them for higher learning with developmental assistance, concurrent credit enrollment and post-secondary enrollment options
  • Encouraging interaction and information sharing with families of Hispanic high school students to help them better understand the advantages of a college education and how to navigate the college enrollment process and explore options to cover the financial costs of college
  • Administering pre-enrollment skills assessment and placement
  • Offering career exploration and counseling
  • Requiring academic success planning and exploration with an assigned faculty advisor or mentor
  • Providing supplemental instruction for those who do not test college-ready through structured non-credit workshop, such as Summer Bridge programs

Initiating Success:

  • Requiring a New Student Orientation experience
  • Making regular interventions to identify needed academic support services
  • Requiring enrollment in a student success course to develop or hone skills necessary for academic success
  • Establishing a path of acceleration for students in Developmental Education courses to complete developmental education requirements in a timely manner

Sustaining Success:

  • Improving class attendance through early alert and intervention programs
  • Encouraging experiential learning beyond the classroom through extra-curricular activities
  • Providing accessible and diverse interdisciplinary tutoring, including faculty and peer tutoring
  • Expanding case management opportunities, including faculty advising, transfer advising, academic coaching and career coaching
  • Encouraging participation in Student Life activities to broaden their social connection to the campus community
  • Developing more academic, cultural and social opportunities that focus or celebrate Hispanic heritage and culture

Defined milestones and intended goals

The proposed project spans five academic years, with 2011-12 as the baseline year (see Table 3). During this baseline year, the OJC Student Success Center entered its first full year of operation, funded through a Title V grant, beginning a series of proactive efforts in retention management. The campus TRiO program was initiated, and a nursing retention specialist was hired on a U.S. Dept. of Labor high-growth high-demand jobs training grant. The subsequent two years leading up to this writing in fall 2013 have seen a dramatic commitment to the expansion of retention management services at the college. This ramp-up is projected to level off by 2014-15 with a full commitment of grant funds and an opportunity to stabilize and mature the services that have been instituted.

We anticipate that the summative measures of change, calculated annually through the retention management dashboard and reported in our Quality Initiative final report in Spring 2016, will reflect steady growth in retention rates for all students, including Developmental Education and Hispanic students, until the stretch goal of 6% improvement, over a three-year time frame, has been met.

Clear processes for evaluating progress

The evaluation of progress toward increasing student retention will include the use of summative and formative evaluation methods that allows for continuous review and modification to meet the initiative’s goals.

Programs and activities for evaluation will include:

  • Student Services and Faculty Advisement
  • Transfer Advising Services
  • Career Counseling
  • Financial Aid Counseling
  • Required Academic Success Course
  • Academic Coaching
  • Developmental Education Courses
  • Summer Bridge Program
  • TRiO Student Support Services
  • Student Success Center individual, peer and group tutoring
  • Disability Services
  • Language Arts Coaching
  • Allied Health Program Career Counseling and Tutoring

Summative evaluations will be used to analyze the following factors for the All Student, Developmental Education and Hispanic student populations:

  • Full-time Equivalency (FTE)
  • Retention Rate Term-to-Term & Year-to-Year
  • Pass Rate Fall/Spring
  • Remediation Pass Rate
  • Withdrawal Rate Fall
  • Withdrawal Rate Spring
  • Graduation Headcount
  • Early Alert Analysis

Describe potential challenges and issues in implementing the initiative

  • Establishing valid target indicators of success for the programs to be evaluated
  • Gathering the data needed to begin the initiative
  • External factors that are intervening variables in analyzing the effectiveness of retention program deliverables; including the decline of the local economy
  • Identifying continuing resources to maintain grant-funded programs that have demonstrated their effectiveness
  • Finding new grant funding opportunities that align with the identified initiatives

Evidence of Commitment to and Capacity for Accomplishing the Initiative

Internal and External Support

The Quality Initiative project is actively supported by the college administration. This is evidenced by a 2012 restructuring of the college organizational chart to establish a division of Enrollment Management. Developmental Education faculty, department chairs, and administrators in Instructional Services have modified course structures to incorporate group tutoring and access to case managers for greater student success opportunities.

External stakeholders actively supporting the initiative include:

  • Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Colorado Community College System (CCCS)
  • Otero Junior College Advisory Committees and Foundation Board
  • Community Leaders
  • K-12 Service Area Providers

Groups and individuals that will lead or be directly involved in implementing the initiative

The project will be lead and driven by the College Quality Initiative Committee, made up of representatives from across campus; each of the departments represented has an impact on retention efforts.

  • Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management
    • Retention
      • Director of Student Success Center and Academic Tutors
      • Allied Healthcare Career Coach
      • Director, Advisors, Counselors and Tutors of TRiO Student Support Services
      • Academic Coach
      • STEM Transfer Advisor

  • Developmental Education Director

  • College President
    • Institutional Researcher

  • Vice President of Student Services
    • Academic and Faculty Advisors
    • Financial Aid and Career Counselors
    • Athletic Director and Coaches

  • Vice President of Instruction and Associate Vice President of Instruction
    • Faculty Assembly
    • Faculty Advisors
    • Department Chairs
      • Arts and Humanities
      • Business Technologies and Service Occupations
      • Math and Science
      • Health Occupations

  • STEM Grant Personnel

Listing of the human, financial and technological resources

  • Human Resources
    • Enrollment Management Retention Team
    • Quality Initiative Committee
    • Instiutional Researcher
  • Technology
    • Technology support for the development of a data dashboard
  • Financial
    • U.S. Dept. of Ed. Title V Grant
    • U.S. Dept. of Ed. Title III Part F STEM Grants
    • TRiO Student Success Grant
    • General Fund

Continuing the Initiative

There will be an on-going process of evaluating programs and activities to determine if there need to be modifications. After completion of the project in 2016, programs that show effectiveness in improving student success will be proposed for institutionalization into general fund accounts. Those without evidence of effectiveness will be evaluated for future continuation.

Appropriateness of the Timeline of the Initiative

The primary activities of the Initiative include the following:

  • Recognition of a baseline of student retention and completion indicators
  • Establishment of a data warehouse reflecting key indicators of change in student success, to be measured and reported regularly
  • Implementation of a range of nationally recognized retention management best practices over a three-year time span
  • Assessment of the effectiveness of the retention strategies using quality indicators measured through the data warehouse, with recommendations for continuance, adjustments or termination of programs based on success

Comprehensive plan for accomplishing the initiative and achieving goals

The comprehensive plan for accomplishing this project is summarized in Table 3. Following the 2011-2012 baseline year, best practices are implemented over a three-year period, leading to a mature program and summative data collection in the fifth and final year.

Table 3: Sustaining Student Success at OJC: Goals, Strategies and Milestones by Year 2011-2016

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Institution Contact

David Cockrell

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