Office of the Provost

Progress Report - June 2015

Lewis-Clark State College continues to focus on implementation of the action plans resulting from the 2013-2014 program prioritization initiative. As noted later in this document, tracking of the initiatives occurs simultaneously with LCSC’s annual program assessment processes. 

1. Brief highlight of the institution’s August 2014 outcomes and plan

Lewis-Clark State College identified four (4) over-arching goals/ outcomes of the program prioritization process which align with the goals of our Strategic Plan. 

  • Sustain and enhance excellence in teaching and learning.
  • Optimize student enrollment and promote student success.
  • Strengthen and expand collaborative relationships and partnerships.
  • Leverage resources to maximize institution strength and efficiency.

The focus of the initiative was on identifying efficiencies in processes and opportunities for restructuring, which ensure the continued quality and integrity of programs. 

LCSC’s 115 programs were quintiled, applying the five (5) criteria of 1) impact, justification, and overall essentiality; 2) quality of program outcomes; 3) external demand; 4) internal demand; and, 5) net revenue. Expected actions for AY 2014-2015 were assigned to each quintile.

QExpected ActionN=115Requirement
1 Highly successful: Seek additional resources 23 Resource plan
2 Highly successful: Sustain current support 23 Aspirational goals
3 Successful: Areas for enhancement identified 23 Action Steps / Plan
4 Multiple elements needing improvement 23 Action Plan
5 Needs or is undergoing major review/ restructure 23 Review → Action Plan, Restructure

2. Expansion of the March 2015 Report topics

a. Implementation progress since August 2014. Have any programs that were excluded from the original program prioritization process been reviewed?

During early fall 2014, based on quintile, program managers set aspirational goals or crafted resource plans, action plans, or established objectives/ outcomes for the major review process. These steps/ plans/ reviews were noted in each program’s Unit Assessment Document for ease of tracking and to ensure follow-up.

All Programs

  • No programs at LCSC were excluded from the original program prioritization process. All programs were reviewed and follow-up actions are in process.
  • All Q1 programs have submitted resource plans with growth targets. These have been reviewed by administration and are currently under consideration for FY16 funding and FY17 line item requests.
  • All Q2 programs have submitted aspirational (intermediate and long term growth) plans. The plans have been reviewed and approved by supervisors for potential future resource allocation in FY 2017 and beyond.
  • All Q3 programs have identified, initiated, and in some cases completed action steps. Progress and results from the steps will be tracked in the annual Unit Assessment documents.
  • All Q4 and Q5 programs have initiated either an action plan or a plan for major review. Initial results are noted below; implementation of plans is in progress and is tracked in the annual Unit Assessment and Unit Action planning processes over the next two years. Actions resulting from major reviews will be phased in over the next several fiscal years. It is anticipated new programming will be recommended as well as refinements to and restructuring of existing programs. 

Instructional Programs

  • Discontinuations: 1 minor/ teaching endorsement; 3 academic degrees; 2 professional-technical intermediate certificates.
  • Reorganization/ restructuring: 1 academic program; 2 professional-technical programs; 1 teaching lab (with 1.0 FTE reallocated to Information Technology). 

Non-instructional Programs

  • Discontinuations: none to date.
  • Reorganization/ restructuring: 2 student support programs (in each, 2 programs were combined - FTE reallocated within student support services area to reach more students); 1 consolidated Testing Center created from existing personnel/resources.
  • Note: Athletics and all auxiliary programs were reviewed in the prioritization process.

b. Challenges encountered during implementation.

  • Pursuing program prioritization action plans simultaneously with strategic enrollment initiatives:
    • LCSC has ambitious enrollment targets over the next 5-year time period. Expansion of the academic and professional-technical program menu is one piece of a strategic enrollment planning to be developed over the next academic year.   
    • Low enrollment programs often meet a regional need. Seeking alternative delivery methods or cycles to better utilize institutional resources while ensuring employer/ industry needs are met is a challenge.
  • Melding program prioritization initiatives into accreditation and college/program level tracking/ assessment to ensure maximum short and long term benefits:
    • To realize the full benefit of the program prioritization process, careful tracking of action steps, action plans, and major reviews is ongoing. The annual assessment process provides one mechanism for such tracking – but the details need to be worked out as noted in #4 below. A comparable initiative for ongoing tracking of elements impacting college level assessment is a next step.
  • Turnover of key personnel critical to the ongoing process.

c. Opportunities that have presented themselves as a result of implementation.

  • Robust interdisciplinary, cross-campus dialogue and collaboration regarding resource sharing and opportunities for program improvement.
  • Resources reallocated within strategic growth/ high need areas through reorganization and streamlining of processes.
  • Campus forums for faculty and staff to discuss program prioritization.
  • Physical relocation and realignment of departments and staff to better serve students.
  • Refinement of ongoing assessment and planning/ budgeting processes with focus on both program quality and viability.
  • Reconceptualization of institutional research/ planning with increased focus on high quality, accessible data for decision-making.
  • Clearer mechanism for allocation of resources during budgeting / planning cycles. 

3. Impact on reaccreditation process.

Prior to initiation of the program prioritization process, 163 programs participated in the annual assessment review process at LCSC.  A program was defined as any activity or collection of activities that used resources and engaged in the college unit assessment process. Program prioritization and preparation for the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) Mid-Cycle report and visit in Fall 2014 provided the opportunity to review the various units previously identified as ‘programs’ and make refinements. In total, 115 programs were quintiled. This reduction in programs resulted in several gains for the institution, including stronger collaboration within units, enabling programs to evaluate themselves as a whole rather than as a set of independent parts, more useful and informative data comparisons, and time savings for program managers and others across campus who are integral to the institutional assessment and planning processes. 

As we plan for the next NWCCU seven-year review, we will use elements of the program prioritization criteria to refine the institutional definition of mission fulfillment.  To that end, our “College Assessment Rubric: will be revised to include a blend of viability and quality indicators as determinants of mission fulfillment [the College Assessment Rubric documents benchmarks, progress toward benchmarks, action plans and evaluation or result of the action plan]. Preparation for an accreditation visit requires the active engagement of the entire campus community; thus faculty, staff and all administrative levels will participate in ongoing use of the program prioritization principles. This process reinforces a culture that bases change and continuous quality improvement on clear, relevant data parameters and thoughtful data analysis. 

4. Normalizing/ sustaining program prioritization in the institution’s budgeting and program review process

To ensure sustainability and institutionalization of the program prioritization process, the President formed a cross-campus Presidential / Program Guidance (PG) Initiative group for AY 2014-2015. This group was charged with assessing the effectiveness of this approach and with identifying necessary strategies for sustainability and follow-up. 

The ongoing assessment process at Lewis-Clark State College includes the identification of meaningful goals, objectives and indicators by program faculty and staff, with input and guidance from the director or the division chair and dean. Programs gather relevant data, compare data to established benchmarks, and analyze the overall results. The results inform changes to the objectives, benchmarks, and measurement tools. Findings also serve as the basis for a work plan, which specifies work elements resulting from the data analysis. Examples of work plan elements include revisions to curriculum, re-sequencing of courses, change in admission criteria, organizational restructuring, etc. The assessment plans are reviewed at multiple levels within the institution, and eventually serve as the basis for program and department level budget requests. 

The PG group, comprised of faculty, staff, directors, and deans, identified elements critical to sustain components of the program prioritization process. The team found that embedding the tracking of program prioritization expected actions within the unit assessment documents distracted program faculty and staff from conducting reflective program assessment. However, the group recognized assessment and program prioritization tracking are parallel processes and must occur in tandem. 

To this end, several modifications are being made to the current assessment forms and processes. First, the program prioritization tracking will be appended to Unit Assessment Document. Completion and follow-up related to the expected actions will follow the same timeline and receive the same review and scrutiny as the program assessment documents. Second, current program assessment parameters which focus primarily on student outcomes and program quality indicators, will be expanded to include an additional mandatory component addressing ongoing program viability. Our new Institutional Research Director is charged with compilation of the necessary viability data and with presenting it in an easily consumable format for faculty and staff users. It is anticipated this approach will mitigate ongoing historical concerns regarding data inaccuracies or discrepancies on the selected viability indicators. 

Lewis-Clark State College will continue to apply key elements of the program prioritization process. We expect increased institutional effectiveness as action plans and major reviews are implemented and evaluated. Program prioritization results will inform future budget requests and strategic resource allocation decisions.