Student Achievement at Mountain Empire Community College
Mountain Empire Community College relies on its mission to drive its processes used to identify the College’s goals and outcomes for student achievement. The mission of Mountain Empire Community College is to provide our region with accessible, quality higher education, workforce training, and community programs to ensure an educated population and globally competitive workforce. To achieve its mission, the College offers a variety of programs and services to meet the diverse needs of its students and the community, including the needs of regional employers.
The College evaluates student achievement by means of external and internal reviews by programmatic areas, as well as overall college goals. The evaluation criteria supporting the College mission include enrollment, retention, graduation, and transfer rates, as well as national and state certification and licensing examination results.
As one of 23 colleges within the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), MECC receives benchmark data from the VCCS annually for each of the criteria used for evaluating student achievement. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) also publishes data via the SCHEV website that is specific to MECC and other Virginia educational institutions. MECC strives to exceed a threshold of achievement that is greater than national or state averages that are consistent with current trends in education.
Compared to other community colleges within the VCCS, MECC serves a high percentage of its regional population (3.3 % in 2017-18, compared to 2.6% for the VCCS). Enrollment data is monitored by headcount and full-time equivalency (FTE) of students enrolled.
MECC maintains data related to the percentage of students retained from Fall to Spring and Spring to Fall annually. As outlined in the College’s Strategic Plan, the College has established two goals related to retention:
Goal #1: By 2021, the fall to spring retention rate for first-time, full-time curricular students will be 90%.
Goal #2: By 2021, the fall to fall retention rate for first-time, full-time curricular students will be 70%.
Retention outcomes for the past three years by these criteria are noted below:
In addition to measuring the retention of first-time-full time curricular students, the College also monitors the retention rates of all of its students, including those who attend part-time and/or are not program-placed. Those rates are measured by fall-to-spring and spring-to-fall retention, as noted below:
MECC maintains data related to the percentage of all attending students who graduate. The results are bench-marked against the overall VCCS average. For example, the graduation rate for MECC’s 2014 Cohort for first-time, full-time program placed students was 37.3% as compared to the VCCS average of 27%.
MECC students may receive multiple awards, but is counted as a single graduate for reporting purposes.
Associate of Arts and Sciences, Associate of Science, and the General Education Certificate degrees are designed for students who plan to transfer to a four-year college or university to complete a baccalaureate degree program. Overall, MECC’s transfer rate (transferred with 16 or more credits) is generally higher than the VCCS average.
MECC also collects data from the National Student Clearinghouse and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) regarding the number of students who graduate from MECC and are enrolled in another institution the following Fall term. The College’s annual goal is to increase the number of its graduates continuing their education by 2% from the previous year.
State/Professional Licensing Examinations: MECC also considers student performance on state licensing examinations and/or professional certification examinations in its evaluation of student achievement. Programs that prepare students for licensure exams administered by state boards or professional commissions include Respiratory Therapy, Registered Nursing, Licensed Practical Nursing, Certified Nursing Assistant, Phlebotomy, Emergency Medical Technician (Basic, Advanced, & Paramedic). These programs use licensing exam results as a third-party assessment of student achievement. Goals are set for licensure exam pass rates that meet or exceed the minimum thresholds set by the respective accrediting body. Actual pass rates of program graduates are used to track program performance during annual program reviews.
Additional goals and expected outcomes for student achievement are identified in MECC’s current Strategic Plan, as well as its Student Success and Enrollment Management Plan. Both plans align with the objectives established by the Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System which focus broadly on connection, entry (enrollment), retention (progress) and completion. The strategic planning process begins with a review of system wide VCCS goals, the College’s mission, vision, and value statements, and concludes with this revised strategic planning document, intended to guide the College’s future directions. The VCCS mission drives both the establishment of VCCS strategic initiatives as well as the MECC mission and strategic goals. The process involves all members of the College community (faculty, staff, students, and administrators), soliciting input from the community, utilizing institutional effectiveness data, and designing a plan which responds to changing community needs.