Focus Goals are steps that are meant to help us implement the long-term Strategic Plan.
The Focus Goals Process
Strategic Plans can look overwhelming. Our Destination 2022, for instance, prescribes five goals, each supported by a host of tactics and action steps.
In order to make progress, we’ve set priorities, starting with one focus goal that will make the greatest impact on our primary vision: student success.
A diverse team that included faculty and representatives from the Faculty Senate, deans, the College Leadership Team, and staff, including classified representatives, decided that the first focus goal would be to improve retention (Goal 2, Tactic 2).
What might seem ironic about that is that PPCC has made huge strides in retention, with six straight years of growth, taking the College from among the lowest performers in our system with 47.3% in 2010/11 to one of the highest, with 52% in 2015/16. But our team decided that we can and must do better, and that significantly boosting retention would result in many positive outcomes for our students and the wider community.
Focus Goal 1: Improve Fall-to-Fall Retention to 55%
Adopted Academic Year 2017/2018
The tactics to drive that improved retention break down into four parts:
- Creating smarter schedules
We want to ensure that all first-semester students work with advisors to map out clear paths so they can take the classes needed to achieve their goals.
- Improving faculty engagement
This campus-wide initiative will institutionalize best practices for every faculty member in every classroom.
- Improving math success
We recognized that math, so essential for just about every field, has become a stumbling block for many students. The key is creating better pathways, so that students are taking the right math for their particular academic path. We are planning a college-wide symposium to create better math/career path alignment.
- Creating more strategic 1 stsemester academic success plan
We know students who fail a class during their first semesters have dramatically lower retention rates. Our team examined the elements of thriving in that first semester, and the one quality successful students generally shared was a sense of belonging. By increasing that connective tissues between the College and the students, we help them become better self-advocates and ultimately more likely to retain.
The President's View on Focus Goals
Dear PPCC Team,
This past year we adopted a new strategic plan. Many of you were involved in offering input on the plan and we covered it in significant detail at last year’s Spring PDW. Here is the PPCC website link to the plan called Destination 2022: https://www.ppcc.edu/destination-2022
This year we are following the model we’ve used in the past of developing and adopting Focus Goals to help us “bite off” significant chunks of the plan identified as first year plan priorities. We refer to the prioritized parts of our Strategic Plan as Focus Goals. Focus Goals help us prioritize the use of resources both human and financial on a part of the Strategic Plan so that we make progress each year relative to the plan. Otherwise plans as ambitious as our Vision 2022 can become overwhelming for the college. This year we convened a large, representative group and spent a full day to considering the direction for our Focus Goals. We adopted an overall goal and four Focus Goal areas to help us achieve that goal. We then spent four consecutive weeks convening large representative groups to determine the specifics of each Focus Goal.
We determined at our first Focus Goal meeting that all of our goals must support an overarching goal of increasing student retention. We debated a number of possible metrics and came away committed to building on our existing strength in student retention. Our overaching goal is below:
Improve Fall-to-Fall student retention to 55%
Six years ago our Fall-to-Fall retention rates stood under 47% and we were among the lowest performers in our state system. Today we can take great pride in our collective team effort that’s taken us to over 53% Fall-to-Fall retention. Our goal is to become among the best performing community college in the nation by achieving 55% or more. Our goal isn’t to be the best at retention for bragging rights or publicity, but rather because every percentage point equals hundreds of individual students who stay in school and achieve their dreams. Every person who is part of PPCC has a role in helping our students succeed – Every Person! We get the privilege of being part of the noble endeavor of changing people’s lives. It is a privilege, and we therefore want to do it as well as it can possibly be done.
To achieve the 55% we are taking on the four Focus Goals detailed below. We believe these goals in conjunction with many other ongoing efforts such as High Impact Learning Practices, CETL Professional Development, and the operations of our new Learning Commons can help us together to achieve extraordinary success on behalf of our students.
Focus Goal 1 – Ensure every student has a clear semester-by-semester plan taking them from their first semester with us to attainment of their education goal.
Focus Goal Leaders: Lincoln Wulf and Wayne Artis
Focus Goal 2 – Use data to identify the most impactful practices all faculty and instructors can implement to retain students.
Focus Goal Leaders: Kristy Callahan, Sharon Bjorkman, Bliss DiJulio
Focus Goal 3 – Align PPCC Math Pathways with state requirements. This group will focus on ensuring that all degree majors offer advising consistent with required math courses for transfer or CTE degree completion. The Colorado Department of Higher Education released last year a document related to “Preferred Math Pathways.” In a nutshell it recommends Mat 121 (College Algebra) for most STEM field areas of study, especially those that require calculus, and quantitative literacy, statistics, or other math options for most other degree paths.
Focus Goal Leader: Joe Southcott
Focus Goal 4 – Create a sense of belonging with our stakeholders (staff and students) at Pikes Peak Community College. Use data that pertains directly to the goal from CCSSEE and SENSE.
Focus Goal Leaders: Regina Lewis, Hannah McNamee, and Carlos Perez
Each of these groups will convene meetings and likely task forces to achieve their goals. There is or will be opportunities for your participation. I expect each group to communicate with the entire college about the measurable goals that will underpin their work, as well as tactics they will use to reach their goal. I also expect the groups to offer opportunities for others to join their teams. If you are passionate about one of the areas described then don’t hesitate to contact the Focus Goal leaders for information about how you might become involved and support their work.
Remember, all of these goals were developed and driven by a single overriding goal of increasing student success. Our measure is student retention; it is I believe the best measure of student success. If students stay and complete their goals then they win, our community and workforce wins, and our college wins.
Lance F. Bolton