THEC Awards over $750,000 to Colleges to Increase Student Success and Institutional Outcomes

Tuesday, August 01, 2017 | 11:26am


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NASHVILLEAugust 1 – The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) has awarded a total of $773,447 to three community colleges and one university to increase student success and outcomes.

The grants, through the Institutional Outcome Improvement Fund Grant, will allow institutions to focus on student outcomes in areas such as credit hour progression and degree completion. The funding is centered on supporting success in metrics that are part of Tennessee’s outcomes-based funding formula for higher education, which promotes educational attainment at the state’s public colleges and universities.

“Student success is at the core of the Drive to 55, and Tennessee’s colleges and universities are committed to innovating for their students to graduate and succeed,” said THEC Executive Director Mike Krause. “These grants allow institutions to develop new services entirely focused on students excelling academically and gaining the skills and credentials necessary to succeed in the workforce.”

Four institutions were funded with grant amounts at or just below $200,000: Columbia State Community College, Jackson State Community College, University of Memphis, and Walters State Community College. Each institution had indicated at least some metrics in the outcomes-based funding formula where the campus plans to focus grant activities. Projects undertaken at each campus will include increased advising and academic coaching, increased data analysis around student success, and guided student pathways based on academic and career goals.

This year marks the second round of grants through the Institutional Outcome Improvement Fund. Last year, six institutions were awarded a total of $800,000 to focus on academic improvements. Funded projects included a summer success initiative for low-income students at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and the creation of a student success center at Cleveland State Community College. Preliminary results indicate increased student outreach at awarded campuses and higher retention rates.

Tennessee’s outcomes-based funding formula model was implemented through the Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010. The formula underwent a review process in 2015, which identified updated outcomes and focus populations for the next five-year cycle. Through the review process, the Institutional Outcome Improvement Fund was identified as an additional tool to assist institutions in growing outcomes and student success.

The grantees were chosen through a competitive application process. The projects will be funded for a total of twenty-four months through non-recurring state funds provided in the FY18 budget. Program activities will begin in September 2017 and continue through the end of August 2019.

Summary of Funded Programs:
Columbia State Community College | $200,000
Project Title: Academic Advising and Retention Reboot

Columbia State will contract with the Educational Advisory Board to implement the Navigate platform to focus on student onboarding through advisement student activities, guided onboarding, smart academic planning, and a 360⁰ advisor dashboard. The college will also create a “Charger Center” to deliver academic coaching, career counseling, and intrusive retention interventions. Through the implementation of the grant, Columbia State plans to increase student retention and on-time graduation rates.

Jackson State Community College | $184,543
Project Title: Pathways to Success

Jackson State will develop individualized digital pathways to degree for students that provide a clear roadmap to graduation and will allow a student and the institution to see if that student is getting off track. Completion coaches will serve as wraparound support to students, connecting students to academic support and student support resources on and off campus as needed, and can track and guide students along the pathway to progression metrics and ultimately degree attainment. A special initiative for summer Pell grant usage will be launched to encourage continuous enrollment toward degree, helping students to maintain momentum and move forward on their plan. Targeted communication to students who complete progression metrics will help keep students aware of their progress on their roadmap and encourage them to reach the next progression point.

University of Memphis | $188,904
Project Title: Memphis Career Preparation Academy (MCPA)

The University of Memphis (UofM) will create the University of Memphis Career Preparation Academy (MCPA), a holistic, coordinated approach to career education targeting low-income and first-generation college students and based upon best practices. UofM will expand on the Complete to Compete program, newly decentralized Career Services Center, and focus on recruitment to student leadership programming.

Walters State Community College | $200,000
Project Title: Systemic Involvement in Retaining and Improving Undergraduate Students (SIRIUS)

Walters State Community College’s Systematic Involvement in Retaining and Improving Undergraduate Students (SIRIUS) project will allow students working with Completion Coaches to explore careers and develop a direct GPS (Guided Pathway to Success). The program will utilize the elements in Purpose First, an initiative developed by Complete College America, which enables students to choose a path, start on the path, stay on the path, and graduate in the most direct manner possible. The SIRIUS project is an enhancement and extension of STARS, a program that provides intensive advising for academically underprepared first-year students and was funded through an Institutional Outcome Improvement Fund grant in 2016. SIRIUS will extend the program over a prolonged length of time by providing effective career advising integrated with effective academic advising.


About the Tennessee Higher Education Commission
The Tennessee Higher Education Commission was created in 1967 by the Tennessee General Assembly.  The Commission develops, implements, and evaluates postsecondary education policies and programs in Tennessee while coordinating the state’s systems of higher education, and is relentlessly focused on increasing the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary credential.