Strategic Direction Initiative to Increase Graduation Rates Gaining Traction

April 27, 2017 -- One of CNM’s Strategic Direction Goals to achieve by 2020 is to increase the college’s official graduation rate, which is determined by a U.S. Department of Education calculation.
Strategic Direction Initiative to Increase Graduation Rates Gaining Traction

Apr 27, 2017

A college’s graduation rate, as determined by the Department of Education, is a high-profile metric that is reported nationally and appears on Internet searches and the popular College Scorecard site. It’s also one of CNM’s Key Performance Indicators.

The DOE’s official graduation rate is the same for community colleges and universities. The rate is determined by the percentage of first-time, full-time degree-seeking students who graduate within 150 percent of the prescribed time it should take a full-time student to complete a certificate or degree program. All associate degrees are allowed three years to meet the 150 percent requirement.

For the fall 2011 cohort of first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students, CNM’s official graduation rate was 13 percent, which ranked sixth among CNM’s 12 official community college peers. CNM’s Strategic Direction Goal is to raise the graduation rate to at least 24 percent by December 2020. And CNM is making progress – in the latest Department of Education statistics, CNM’s cohort that begin in fall 2013 posted a final graduation rate of 16 percent.

CNM’s Strategic Direction Team that is focused on this graduation rate initiative is implementing efforts to help more students graduate on time, which also lowers the student cost of a degree or certificate and reduces the need for student loans. Ultimately, successful efforts being implemented for first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students will be expanded to the greater student body.

CNM is currently monitoring cohorts that began in fall 2014, fall 2015 and fall 2016. The fall 2014 cohort is on pace, with two more terms to go, to post at least a 17 percent graduate rate.

Here are some of the efforts that have taken place so far to support first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students and their journey to graduation:

  • Students are being encouraged to meet with an Academic Coach to set up a degree plan in Degree Works.
  • CNM is using texts, phone calls and emails to reach out and support students in these cohorts.
  • CNM Contact Center is reaching out to students in cohort who have not graduated and are not registered for classes for the next term.
  • Students in the fall 2016 cohort have been offered a $200 incentive award to meet progress goals.
  • The fall 2014 cohort has been put on “monitored” status in the “Faculty Feedback” alert system.

Here are some of the efforts in planning stages:

  • Evaluate policies and methodologies defining students in the first-time, full-time, degree-seeking cohorts.
  • Consider financial aid policies for these students and determine which programs are most successful in retaining and graduating students.
  • Evaluate fall-to-spring and fall-to-fall retention rates to ensure cohort students are on track to graduate in 150 percent of prescribed time to graduation.
  • Research how reverse transfer data can be mined and included in graduation rates.
  • Implement two-way texting and additional coaching for some students in fall 2017 cohort.
  • Research factors that lead to students dropping classes and intervene beforehand.
  • Learn more about why students drop classes and then implement efforts to lessen the probability for students dropping classes.
  • The Time to Degree and Academic Plan Strategic Direction Teams will be merging.

For more information, visit the Strategic Direction Time to Degree SharePoint site at