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.
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.
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.
|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|
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.
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.
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.