Missouri Western will be receiving more state funding because of an increase in graduation and freshman to sophomore retention rates.
Since performance-based funding began 3 years ago, Western has failed to maintain a six-year cohort graduation rate that was above the nationwide standard – meaning that Western has more students fail to complete a degree in six years as compared to similar colleges nationwide. This year, however, Western was well above the average.
The 2008-2014 cohort (students who began in 2008 and graduated in 2014) showed a graduation rate of 36 percent. This number is 2 percent higher than last year’s rate, and a whopping 8 percent over the 2011 class’ 28 percent.
Basically, out of the 957 students who started at Western 2008 to seek degrees, 344 graduated within the six-year allowance.
Funding to state schools in Missouri is partially based on five different performance indicators: freshman-to-sophomore retention rate; general education assessments; spending directed to a college’s core mission; the number of students who participate in an external research program or display their works and receive an award for their performance; and six-year cohort graduation rates.
Tyson Schank, associate dean of enrollment management and director of admissions, is more impressed with the increase of the retention rate. The freshman-sophomore retention rate for this year was 64.1 percent, a 3.7 percent increase over the previous year.
“Any time you increase your retention rate even one percent, it’s very hard to do,” Schank said.
The amount of funding Western will receive as a result of the higher graduation numbers is another question altogether.
Douglas Davenport, associate vice president for academic affairs, says that each performance indicator accounts for roughly one fifth of the amount of funding designated to each university.
“It’s not a lot of money; we’re not talking about millions of dollars. We don’t know the [monetary] impact of having success on all five measures,” Davenport said. “In fact, the legislature and the governor are pretty far apart in what they even want to fund for the budget for higher education.”
But, the increase in funding is not the only important result of meeting all of the indicators.
Schank says that the real importance of meeting all the indicators is that it shows the hard work that Western has put into helping students achieve in the academic field.
“The message is that we are doing a better job of making sure that students are making it from year one on,” Schank said. “When we compare Missouri Western to other institutions with similar standards for admission and acceptance, our graduation rate is over twice as high. Missouri Western is doing a really good job of fulfilling its mission.”