NASHVILLE — The state has awarded nearly $152,000 to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and another $90,700 grant to Cleveland State for programs aimed at enabling more students to move through their courses and graduate.
Tennessee Higher Education Commission officials announced the Institutional Outcome Improvement Fund grants today.
The money is part of $800,000 in one-time state funds officials are providing to six public universities and community colleges across the state over two years for programs and initiatives that boost successful student outcomes.
Their goal is "growing" outcomes in areas like credit-hour progression and degree completion.
It all has to do with the state's 2010 outcomes-based Complete College Act funding formula for higher education. The formula makes student success a major factor in how the state apportions funds to the institutions.
The ultimate goal is promoting educational attainment among Tennesseans and aiding economic development.
"The outcomes-based funding formula has been a catalyst for improvement and growth for many institutions in Tennessee," said THEC Interim Executive Director Russ Deaton in a news release. "The Institutional Outcomes Improvement Fund grants were designed to provide an action plan for institutions that have identified areas where they can grow student success further."
Proposals were required to show evidence of deficiency in growth in at least one of the formula outcomes for community colleges or public universities or among one of these groups: adult learners, low-income students or, for community colleges, academically underprepared students.
UTC received $159,988 for what it's calling the "The Summer Success Experience." The purpose is preparing low-income students for academic, experiential and personal success. UTC intends to use its grant to offer two sessions of a week-long residential summer program in the summer of 2017.
All low-income students admitted for the 2017 fall semester will be invited to participate at no cost with 100 students accepted for each week of the program, totaling 200 students per summer.
The program offers incoming low-income freshmen the chance to get familiar with UTC, learn about student services, explore the Chattanooga area and experience life on a college campus through a variety of workshops, field trips and seminars.
Students also participate in academic classes and get help with developing study skills they'll need in school and also find out about classroom expectations.
Cleveland State Community College, meanwhile, is using its grant to create a Student Success Center.
It will create a structure for early and frequent communication with students from the time they apply to the college until they complete their academic programs for associate degrees as well as long and short-term certificate programs.
The Center will use a "Success Coaching" model with staff assigned caseloads of students. Coaches provide regular feedback and support for students to keep them on a path toward completing their degree or certificate.
Educators hope to enhance existing technologies to help identify early students who may be struggling, assist coaches in monitoring the students' progress and enable them to stay on track.
Other institutions receiving similar grants were East Tennessee State University, Austin Peay State University, Roane State Community College and Walters State Community College.