New division hopes to increase college efficiency

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A strategic plan has been proposed to improve college.

By Wally Perez

A collegewide assessment is being done to evaluate if students are getting the most out of their classes and if instructors are providing sufficient learning outcomes.

This is where the newly formed Integrated Planning and Performance Excellence division comes in.

The division has been put together to help develop and maintain a strategic planning cycle for this college involving steps including assessments, review and improvements for departments, programs and the college in general.

“We’re not just trying to deliver a service; we want to see if we’re delivering quality,” President Robert Vela said. “We need to look, evaluate and assess. IPPE assists in this institutional-wide assessment of continuous improvement.”

If an instructor wants to see if their teaching methodology is appropriate and effective, they can look back at the assessment and see the statistics in their classes, then make improvements if needed, he said.

“At the end of the day, we want students to walk away from their courses knowing they’re getting the best they can when moving on to the next course or institution,” Vela said.

There are a lot of factors that may affect the outcome of these assessments, he said.

“Students may have issues outside of school or may not be prepared for classes here,” Vela said. “If that’s the case, we need to have a plan of action to figure out what can be done to help them.”

There are scholarships, financial aid, writing labs and tutoring available for students; there are ways to help students stay in class, he said.

Regarding any sort of consequences for instructors, Vela said these assessments and outcomes are not meant to punish faculty or staff. However, there is a form of punishment called progressive discipline.

If there is a complaint regarding faculty or staff who are unethical in any way, they are given a verbal reprimand. If an offense is repeated, then they are given a written warning. If the behavior continues, it may lead to eventual dismissal.

Anything that is considered unethical or something such as missing work could warrant the warnings. In the case of missing work, the verbal warning may be skipped and jump to a written reprimand if the person fails to call in.

“We want to see what instructors are doing to improve success rates. We can all get better. We just want to figure out how everyone can succeed,” Vela said.

He went on to say that the accreditation of the college relies on having a good plan.

This college is currently accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and must demonstrate it is assessing and improving, he said.

The IPPE division is composed of three members

IPPE Chief Dr. Kristine Clark, Francisco Solis, director of learning assessment and unit review, and Cynthia Price, senior statistical research specialist.

Clark is a retired vice chancellor of the Alamo Colleges, and former executive vice president of this college.

Vela had the idea for the IPPE and thought Clark would be great for the position. The job was not advertised as procedure dictates.

“She knows the Alamo Colleges, the faculty here and has the skill set I was looking for to start the department,” Vela said. “She is here to help build up the program and maintain it for as long as she’s here.”

Clark is working for the division until her contract expires at the end of May, at which time Vela will take over.

Solis said, “In unit review, all departments go into a five-year review process and then report to a committee. Learning assessments refer to the five things students will learn in a course, referred to as student learning outcomes (SLOs) that are seen at the top of course syllabi.”

It’s an assessment regarding whether each instructor for each course for each section does or does not complete SLOs.

Faculty have access to a program called eLumen that tracks students’ performance and allows them to assess their classes.

Price works on the strategic plan for the college, helping divisions such as student success, the academic division and college support accomplish goals, targets and measures.


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