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Student Achievement


STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT:

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) requires all accredited colleges and universities in the southern region to make student achievement metrics, goals, and results available to the public. Below are WKU's outcomes and performance criteria and most recent results along with links to reports that show more detailed information. For comments or questions about this information, contact Dr. Molly Kerby, Assistant Provost for Institutional Effectiveness (molly.kerby@wku.edu) in the Office of the Provost.


METRICS:

As detailed in Climbing to Greater Heights: The WKU Strategic Plan 2018 - 2028, WKU focuses on student learning and achievement by creating programming aimed at increasing persistence, retention rates, and graduation rates, particularly among underrepresented minority (URM) and low-income students.  Student achievement metrics focus on the following:

  • 6-year graduation rate
  • First-second year retention rate
  • Persistence
  • Graduation and retention rates for low-income and URM students
  • Number of graduate and professional degrees
  • Success in licensure exam pass rates

GOALS:

Three of the goals directly related to overall Student Achievement include:

  • Graduation Rate—increase the six-year graduation of first-time, full-time (FTFY) baccalaureate degree- seeking students,
  • Retention Rate—increase the first-to-second year retention of first-time, full-time (FTFY) baccalaureate degree-seeking students, and
  • Persistence —increase the number of first-time, full-time (FTFY) freshmen, sophomores, and juniors progressing to the next classification or graduating during the academic year.

RESULTS:

Over the past ten years, the 4-year graduation rate for undergraduates at WKU has increased nearly 100% from 21.9% in 2008-9 to 40.1% in 2018-19. The six-year graduation is currently a little over 55%. The 2018-19 first-time, full-time student retention rate of students at WKU is 76.8% (Table 1). From Kentucky employment statistics, 52% of WKU baccalaureate degree earners were employed in Kentucky five years after graduation. Some three-quarters of undergraduates and one-third of graduate students attend WKU on a full-time basis, but even many of these students are employed to some degree while enrolled. WKU works diligently with students to find the appropriate work-school-life balance so students can obtain their degrees and pursue their aspirations. Complete metrics are housed on the Strategic Plan web site.

Table 1: WKU Retention and Graduation Rates (TOTAL)

Performance Metrics

AY15-16

Baseline

AY16-17

AY17-18

AY18-19

AY19-20

WKU Strat Plan Goal

AY27-28

6-Year FTFY Graduation Rate

51.9%

50.7%

53.4%

51.6%

55.1%

60.0%

1st-2nd Year FTFY Retention

72.8%

69.9%

71.5%

72.9%

76.8%

80.0%

FTFY Fall to Fall Persistence

•  FR: 2,051

•  SO: 2,207

•  JR: 2,802

•  FR:2,055

•  SO 2,194

•  JR: 2,727

•  FR: 1,982

•  SO: 2,194

•  JR: 2,795

•  FR: 2,154

•  SO: 2,317

•  JR: 2,942

•  FR: 2,051

•  SO: 2,207

•  JR: 2,802

•  FR: 2,055

•  SO: 2,194

•  JR: 2,727

 

 

Graduation and Persistence Rates for Low-Income and URM Students

As indicated in the Strategic Plan Metrics, the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) requires all public postsecondary institutions in the state of Kentucky to implement strategies, programs, and services that fulfill the educational objectives set forth in The Postsecondary Education Improvement Act (HB 1,1997 Special Session), and address the needs of and support the success of all students, particularly those most affected by institutional and systemic inequity and exclusion. To that end, the CPE requires state colleges and universities to draft a Diversity Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) plan, set goals/targets for the recruitment, retention, and graduate of Underrepresented Minority (URM) and Low-income students, and maintain documentation of progress. The CPE defines URM as African American, Hispanic, and/or two or more races. Although WKU’s interpretation of diversity is much broader, data collected and reported reflects the CPE definition. Table 2 illustrates the graduation and retention rates of URM students in comparison to overall rates.

Table 2. WKU Retention and Graduation Rates for URM & Low-Income Students (URM = African American, Hispanic, or two or more races)

Performance Metrics

AY15-16

AY16-17

AY17-18

AY18-19

AY19-20

WKU Strat Plan Goal

AY27-28

6-Year FTFY Graduation Rate (TOTAL)

51.9%

50.7%

53.4%

51.6%

55.1%

60.0%

6-Year Graduation Rate (Low Income)

41.0%

37.9%

39.9%

38.3%

41.5%

*

6-Year Graduation Rate (URM)

33.9%

30.7%

33.6%

34.7%

36.9%

*

1st-2nd Year FTFY Retention (Total)

72.8%

69.9%

71.5%

72.9%

76.8%

80.0%

1st-2nd Year FTFY Retention (Low Income)

63.7%

60.2%

62.7%

64.7%

69.9%**

*

1st-2nd Year FTFY Retention (URM)

58.3%

57.8%

57.1%

59.5%

73.0%

*

*Percentages not included in the Strategic Plan but specified in the DEI Plan


Increase Graduate and Professional Degrees

Global competition and the shift to a knowledge-based economy over the past 20 years, has increased the demand for graduate and professional degrees. In addition, the current economic crisis has pushed some students to pursue graduate and professional degrees because of increased salaries and life-long earning power. WKU offers 24 Joint Undergraduate Master's Program

(JUMP) programs, four Doctoral Programs, and 48 Masters Programs. The JUMP Programs allow students to seamlessly complete both the undergraduate and graduate work in approximately five years. WKU set targets to increase graduate degree completion considerably between AY 2017-18 and AY 2027-28 (see table 3).

Table 3: WKU Graduate/Professional Degrees Awarded (TOTAL)

Performance Metrics

AY15-16

AY16-17

AY17-18

AY18-19

AY19-20

WKU Strat Plan Goal

AY27-28

Number of graduate and professional degrees awarded during an academic year

*

*

879

930

834

970

*Data not included in WKU Strategic Plan

Until 2016-2017, WKU had a fairly robust number of graduate students. From 2015-16 to 2019-20, WKU suffered a 20.4% decrease in enrollment due, in part, to federal regulations on International students. In 2015, 11.8% of WKU graduate students were International but in 2019, that number had declined to 4.3%. As part of the new strategic plan, Climbing to Greater Heights, WKU set targets to incrementally increase the number of graduate degrees awarded by approximately 10 each year. These number seem modest but they are in line with the flattening of graduate student enrollment in the Unites States, the toll Covid-19 and educational policies have taken on International enrollment, and the time needed for economic recovery and stability.


Maintain Success in State Board and Licensure Exams

Licensure examination pass rates are monitored maintained by the appropriate units in the colleges. Pass rates on licensure examinations are a critical measure of student achievement and WKU's target goal is to exceed the national average for licensure examinations if a license is required to practice a chosen field. As a minimum threshold of acceptability, programs strive to meet national benchmarks, and program strategic planning and outcome reporting for state board, specialized accreditation, and/or licensure exam pass rates from across all levels of WKU degree programs.

Several academic programs hold state board or specialized disciplinary accreditation. Student outcome information is publicly available based upon accreditation standards set by the respective accrediting body or state board. Pass rates and other information about the accreditation process is housed online and part of public record. The following examples illustrate academic departmental and program strategic planning and outcome reporting for state board, specialized accreditation, and/or licensure exam pass rates from across all levels of WKU degree programs. Such exams are listed below:

WKU Educator Preparation Program (PRAXIS EXAM)

Graduate Dietetic Practice Certificate

Dental Hygiene

Speech-Language Pathology

Doctor of Physical Therapy (CAPTE)

The School of Nursing (NCLEX)


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 Last Modified 2/26/21