Clark State submits plans to improve completion rate

Clark State Community College recently submitted updated plans to the Ohio Department of High Education laying out how the school plans to eliminate barriers that might prevent students from earning a degree or certificate.

The Ohio Department of Higher Education began requiring colleges and universities to submit a College Completion Plan in 2014, said Amit Singh, vice president and provost at Clark State.

The plan covers everything from the application process to graduation, and tries to eliminate or reduce barriers to student success.

“It’s how you structure a student’s whole journey so they’re successful,” Singh said.

In the past colleges, including Clark State, focused on enrolling as many students as possible, he said. But the state’s focus has since shifted to a funding model that instead rewards institutions based on student success.

“We had to change our mindset, our thinking and our operation to match the new reality,” Singh said. “Every school now focuses on the completion piece, which looks at success, not access.”

Each school’s completion plan is different because each college or university has different challenges, Singh said. The state’s funding formula is the sign of success because it provides more state funding based on graduation rates and other factors.

Clark State received the second-largest state increase in funding among community colleges in Ohio under the most recent formula, he said, about a 10 percent hike. Half of the funding is based on course completion, while other factors look at measurements like how many students complete 12 credit hours in a given year. The formula is based on the past three years of performance.

The plan was developed by a group that included faculty and staff, said Jo Alice Blondin, Clark State’s president. One of the focuses included ensuring programs the college offers are aligned with jobs available in the local workforce, she said.

Clark State also placed more emphasis on its advising process to help students place a sharper focus on their career goals as soon as they enroll at Clark State.

“We work with students who have so many barriers to completion, like their work, child care, family life and a host of other factors,” Blondin said. “We want to make sure we’re getting our students through.”

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