By Abby Weingarten
New College broke performance metrics records this year, achieving its highest-ever score (87 on a 100-point scale) and more excellence and improvement points than any school has ever received in the State University System (SUS) of Florida.
On May 28, the SUS Board of Governors (BOG) officially approved the totals for the annual Performance Based Funding (PBF) metrics in the 2020 university accountability plans. New College will receive approximately $4 million from the state in 2020-21.
“We’re tiny, but when New College focuses its efforts, we’re mighty,” said Bradley Thiessen, New College’s chief of staff, director of institutional performance assessment, and liaison for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). “We can point to our highest-ever performance to show potential students and their parents that, if they attend New College, they will graduate within four years with one of the lowest-cost degrees in the state and find immediate success.”
The BOG uses a performance-based model, which includes 10 metrics that evaluate state universities on a range of issues. Schools earn a score between 0 and 10 points on each metric. New College achieved the highest score on eight metrics that measured factors including graduate outcomes, degree cost to students, and graduation and retention rates.
A spike in a metrics score not only enhances a college’s reputation but it also guarantees substantial new funding from the state. Last year, New College only scored 67 points.
“The most noticeable financial impact is the additional state funding we’ll receive through our performance. We expect to receive approximately $4 million in state funds (in 2020-21) due to our score,” Thiessen said. “We will use this money to further enhance our future performance.”
New College achieved the sixth-highest score among the 11 SUS schools behind the University of South Florida (94), the University of Florida (90), the University of Central Florida (89), Florida Gulf Coast University (88) and Florida International University (88).
Investments in New College’s Center for Career Engagement and Opportunity (CEO) contributed to the improvement, as did the work of the faculty to integrate internships and community-based learning into academic programs.
“Because of this, we’re seeing tremendous improvement in the immediate success of our graduates,” Thiessen said. “We expect these improvements will continue as we introduce new academic programs focused on applied learning and career readiness.”
New College also improved its retention and graduation rates, which heavily influenced the metrics score.
“Through the efforts of our faculty and staff within academic affairs, student affairs and enrollment management (specifically, Associate Provost Suzanne Sherman and the Student Success Center), we’re identifying students at risk of dropping out and providing them with support,” Thiessen said. “We’ve found that, when we’re able to keep a student at New College into their second year, they graduate within four years.”
Through first-year seminars, Living Learning Communities and Mid-Semester Progress Reports, retention at New College increased by 10 percent this year.
These totals are all pulled directly from New College’s accountability plan. New College, along with every other member of the SUS, was required to submit its plan on May 1 to demonstrate how the College has contributed (and will continue to contribute) to the long-term goals of the SUS.
“At the state level, accountability plans are important because they allow the public to hold the SUS accountable for using public funds to achieve its goals,” Thiessen said. “We find the process of developing our plan useful because it gives us an opportunity to reflect on our performance and refine our priorities.”
For the 2019-20 academic year, $560 million in funding for universities was tied to their performance on 10 PBF metrics. If a college improves over the previous year, it will earn a share of an additional $265 million in state funding.
“If we continue to focus on student success and execute our strategic plan, I think we can get to a perfect score of 100 points. We intend to improve until we consistently become the top-scoring school in the SUS.”
Abby Weingarten is the editor/writer in the Office of Communications & Marketing.