The institution evaluates success with respect to student achievement including, as appropriate, consideration of course completion, state licensing examinations, and job placement rates. (Federal Requirement 4.1)
Longwood University evaluates success with respect to student achievement including course completion, state licensing exams, job placement rates, and other measures when they are available.
Assessment of student progress toward successful course completion is conducted within individual courses. Each student is evaluated using course-specific exams to determine acquisition of skills and knowledge in each academic discipline. Successful completion of the course means earning a grade of A, B, C, D, or P.
Longwood's successful course completion rate for all colleges combined ranged from 93% to 97% for the 2008-09 academic year (see tables 1 and 2). All rates by college and course level are at least 90%, with some variation. The College of Education and Human Services (CEHS) had the highest successful completion rate (98.3%) for undergraduate courses at the 300-400 level during spring 2009. At the low end of undergraduate instruction, the College of Business and Economics (CBE) reported a successful completion rate of 90.5% for 100-200 level courses in spring 2009. The Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences (CCCAS) has the highest enrollment and teaches the largest proportion of general education courses, most of which are in the 100-200 level range, where successful course completion rates held steady at approximately 92%.
Table 1. Fall 2008 Successful Course Completion Rates
Source: 0809 SCHEV Course Enrollment File 2, report prepared by the Office of Assessment and Institutional Research (OAIR)
Table 2. Spring 2009 Successful Course Completion Rates
Source: 0809 SCHEV Course Enrollment File 2, report prepared by the OAIR
Licensure Completion Rates
State licensing examinations measure student achievement for the disciplines of nursing and teacher certification. In 2009-10, Longwood University started the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, which is expected to produce its first graduates in 2013. Certification exams and licensure for nursing students will occur after the first class graduates. Candidates in teaching certification programs are prepared for professional licensing/certification examinations. These exams are Praxis II tests, Virginia Reading Assessment (VRA), Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment (VCLA), and/or the School Leadership Licensure Assessment (SLLA). Applicants requesting initial teaching licensure are required to achieve passing scores on professional teachers' assessments prescribed by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). Professional licensing/certification examination pass rates for the 2007-09 Virginia Biennial Report are summarized below. Candidate results are not reported for programs with fewer than 10 completers.
- The VCLA is a communication competency test that measures the communication and literacy skills necessary to teach and communicate effectively with parents and others in the education community. Longwood candidates have a 100% pass rate for the VCLA to date.
- Praxis II is a content area test specific to a secondary program area. All program areas are required to have a 70% pass rate. The six content areas with more than 10 teacher candidates are at or above the pass rate. Candidates in the elementary education preK-6 program constitute well over half the Longwood students taking the Praxis II and have a pass rate of 99.5%.
- The VRA is a test for elementary, special education, and reading teachers. The VRA identifies teaching candidates who have the knowledge and skills that are important for performing the job of an elementary (preK-3 or preK-6) teacher, a special education teacher, or a reading specialist in Virginia public schools. Longwood elementary teacher candidates have a 100% pass rate, and reading specialists have a 97% pass rate.
- The SLLA is applicable only to the administration and supervision preK-12 endorsement. Longwood candidates have an 83.3% pass rate.
As additional evidence of student achievement, each teacher education program area submits a program review report to the VDOE and to its specialized professional association (SPA). Program reports include information regarding content area testing for Praxis, other student data used for assessment, assessment results, and actions taken based on data analysis. The 2010 SPA Report for Accreditation of Mathematics includes descriptions and results of six assessments used to review the program for licensure of candidates. The School Library Media 2006 SPA report maps seven assessments to the standards and includes standard-aligned assessment rubrics for each measure. All other programs have similar reports which specifically indicate content assessment through a licensure/testing process or specific assessments designated by the program area. Electronic copies of all program assessment reports are available in office of the associate dean for the CEHS.
Employment and Graduate School Placement Rates
During the last week of classes in May, the Academic and Career Advising Center (ACAC) sends an e-mail request to all graduating seniors to complete an online questionnaire concerning their plans after graduation. Several departments prefer to distribute the survey in hard copy to seniors in their capstone course, with nearly a 100% response rate. The response to e-mail requests is much lower. The target population includes graduates from May of the given year and graduates from August and December of the previous year. In an effort to boost the response rate, the ACAC sends a follow-up to every student in November; the format of the follow-up is either e-mail or postal mail, depending on budget at the time. While 2008-09 data are still being tabulated, data collected from 2006-07 and 2007-08 indicate that this two-pronged approach has resulted in an overall response rate of approximately 40%.
For this report, the employment rate is the percentage of respondents who selected "Employed" from one of seven options for plans after graduation; enrollment in graduate or professional school is the percentage of respondents who selected "Accepted into graduate/professional school." The combined employment and graduate or professional school placement rate for all colleges was 98% for 2007 graduates and 74% for 2008 graduates. The employment rate only for all colleges was 84% in 2007 and 56% in 2008 (see table 3).
Table 3. Employment and Graduate/Professional School Placement Rates, 2007 to 2008
|Number of Degrees Granted
|Graduate / Professional School
|Number of Degrees Granted
|Graduate / Professional School
|| 5 (4%)
|| 7 (6%)
Source: ACAC graduate surveys in 2007 and 2008; number of degrees granted provided by OAIR from Longwood Factbook 2008-09
aNumber of degrees granted in August 2006, December 2006, and May 2007
bNumber of degrees granted in August 2007, December 2007, and May 2008
Data analysis revealed several issues that need further investigation. First, the response rate is low and varies significantly by college. Second, there is great variation among the colleges in terms of how the survey is handled. For example, the CBE makes follow-up phone calls and sends e-mails to increase the response rate of its graduates. Given the low response rate, incomplete data, and variation in how each college handles the survey, it is not possible to draw meaningful conclusions from the data. The University is addressing these issues in several ways. The ACAC is working with campus partners to identify ways to improve the response rate and refine the way in which the survey is handled. In January 2010, the OAIR began including a set of questions related to employment and/or graduate school attendance in an alumni survey that will be administered every three years. In addition, alumni have been able to retain their Longwood e-mail address since September 2008, which may have a positive impact on future response rates.
As a public institution, Longwood University is required to report annual enrollment data, including first-time, full-time freshmen, to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). The retention rate for this group dropped from a high of 82.6% in 2001 to a low of 74.5% in 2006 before rising to 78.7% in 2008 (see table 4).
Table 4. Retention Rates of First-Time, Full-Time Students to Their Second Year
||# in Cohort
Source: SCHEV Research Retention Report - R1 First-Time, Full-Time Students
The decline during the first half of the decade resulted in Longwood engaging two consulting firms in 2005 to assess, guide, and provide recommendations for improvement. Two strategies developed as a result of these recommendations were instituting an early intervention system that identifies students who appear to be having academic trouble early during a semester and restructuring academic advising services for undeclared students.
First, the early intervention system involves instructional faculty and the staff of the Learning Center. Each semester, instructors record grade estimates for all first-year students, for upper-level students making a "D" or an "F," and for students who are not making satisfactory academic progress (cumulative GPA less than 2.0). The staff of the Learning Center sends an e-mail to identified students within 48 hours of receiving notification from the Office of Registration and offers possible avenues of assistance as well as clarification of withdrawal policies.
Second, Longwood students who have not yet declared a major are grouped together for freshman orientation. Studies by the consulting firms indicated that compared to the general student population, undeclared students at Longwood had a higher tendency to drop out. To strengthen advising services to this group, in 2009 the University added two full-time professional staff to the Career Center and formally renamed it the Academic and Career Advising Center. In fall 2009, the professional advisors assumed responsibility for all academic advising of undeclared students. Advisors assist the students in clarifying their career goals, developing educational plans to realize those goals, and making appropriate course selections.
According to a recent analysis by the OAIR, the first-time, full-time retention rate for 2008 increased by 3% from 2006. Because of the relatively short tenure of the restructured advising program, the University administration will assess the actual impact of the program on retention of undeclared students through annual assessment reports from the ACAC.