On Tuesday, Jan. 20, the SPC Board of Trustees discussed the effect that developmental education reform had on Fall 2014 success data. They also glimpsed an outline of proposed strategic goals for next year that were based on their December planning workshop.
Board members were dismayed to learn that student success rates – earning an A, B or C grade in a class – dropped in the Fall 2014 term, particularly among minority first-time-in-college (FTIC) students.
Overall, the course success rate dropped from 76.9 percent in fall 2013 to 76.2 percent in Fall 2014. Among minority students, the decrease was more pronounced. Success rates for FTIC black/African American males dropped 17.3 percent and those for Hispanic/Latino males dropped 6.2 percent.
SPC President Bill Law, senior leadership and trustees agreed the drop is related to fallout from Senate Bill 1720, which exempts students from taking placement tests and developmental education courses in math, reading and writing. Developmental education courses are designed to support students who may lack the skills necessary to be successful in college coursework. Since Spring 2014, St. Petersburg College has used a predictive model to identify and alert students who likely need developmental courses to be successful students.
Dr. Law said he and staff will come back to the board soon with some recommendations to increase success for students who need developmental education classes. These may include changes to New Student Orientation, the SLS1101 College Experience course and student support mechanisms, and/or a provision that students be required to take pre-requisite college-level math and communications classes prior to completing a certain number of credits.
“We’re not giving up,” Dr. Law said. “This is the most important thing we do.”
Trustees also reviewed the budget process timeline, which includes the Strategic Budget Request Presentation Day on Thursday, March 5. Budget requests will be tied to the strategic goals that board members prioritized in their December workshop: the College Experience, academic and instructional enhancements, strategic enrollment growth, community initiatives and employee professional development.
In other board news:
Spring enrollment up
Patrick Rinard, associate vice president of Enrollment Services, shared that student enrollment is up 1.5 percent in Spring 2015 compared to Spring 2014. The greatest increases were among black and Hispanic students and those 18 years old and younger. Also, lower division student semester hours (SSH) grew by 1.3 percent, while upper division SSH grew by 6.6 percent.
Dr. Law and trustees recognized the Online Learning and Services team for its hard work on a tight timeline to successfully launch MyCourses, the college’s new online learning management system that is now being used by all students.
Six retirees were honored: Susan Ballenger, Jackie Lawler, William Walter, Cynthia Thomas, Lolita Brown and Brad Jenkins.
Exploratory Labs Boot Camp
Dr. Jim Connolly, director of Corporate Training; Pat Gehant, director of Tampa Bay Technology Forum Workforce Initiative; and Angie Beltz, vice president of Tech Data, briefed board members on the new Exploratory Labs Boot Camp which kicks off next month and is designed to generate well-rounded, highly skilled IT workers for Tampa Bay employers.
Marine Science Labs and Classrooms at Bay Pines
Trustees also discussed a change to the site of the proposed Marine Science Labs and Classrooms at Bay Pines. Originally, the building was to be constructed on a peninsula comprised of wetlands. After design and environmental studies, the new building will be built closer to Bay Pines and Seminole boulevards. The move has three distinct advantages: it will increase visibility of the center, it will protect environmentally sensitive wetland habitats, and it will allow the architect to increase the square footage used for classes and research.