Student Achievement


As a comprehensive university, the provision of an exceptional education is based, in part, on the identification and monitoring of student achievement metrics relative to aspirational targets and minimal thresholds of acceptibility. The routine assessment of each outcome metric serve as a evaluative guage of the extent to which the mission, related goals, and priorities of the institution are being achieved.

USC Aiken has identified the following criteria of student achievement:

As a comprehensive public institution, it is important to offer degree programs for which there is interest and a need for the enhancement of society. Tax-payers expect universities to be good stewards of resources and they both demand and deserve a return on appropriated dollars. Resources associated with programs in which there is little interest or need can be reallocated to programs that are more likely to meet the needs of constituents.

The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education sets minimal thresholds of acceptibility through program productivity standards. At a minimum, baccalaureate degree programs must have an average of 12.5 students enrolled over a five-year period. The same productivity standards required an average of 6 students enrolled over a five-year period for master’s degrees. Aspiration targets for programs are to maintain enrollment or grow year-to-year. Departments engage in recruitment activities to achieve program growth.

Five-Year Average Program Enrollment
Program
Period
Minimal Threshold
Actual Value
Aspirational Target
Applied Clinical Psychology
2015-2020
6
30.4
31.6
2014-2019
6
31.6
33.0
2013-2018
6
33.0
34.4
Applied Computer Science
2015-2020
12.5
73.0 {only 2 years of data}
49.0
2014-2019
12.5
49.0 {only 1 year of data}
12.5
2013-2018
new program
Applied Mathematics
2015-2020
12.5
8 {only 2 years of data}
12.5
2014-2019
12.5
6 {only 1 year of data}
12.5
2013-2018
new program
Biology
2015-2020
12.5
292.0
288.2
2014-2019
12.5
288.2
274.6
2013-2018
12.5
274.6
262.2
Business Administration
2015-2020
12.5
687.2
670.4
2014-2019
12.5
670.4
641.0
2013-2018
12.5
641.0
608.2
Chemistry
2015-2020
12.5
62.8
70.4
2014-2019
12.5
70.4
75.8
2013-2018
12.5
75.8
82.0
Clinical Laboratory Science
2015-2020
12.5
20.5 {only 4 years of data}
16.0
2014-2019
12.5
16.0 {only 3 years of data}
14.0
2013-2018
12.5
14.0 {only 2 years of data}
12.5
Communication
2015-2020
12.5
143.6
148.2
2014-2019
12.5
148.2
151.0
2013-2018
12.5
151.0
148.0
Communication & Digital Arts
2015-2020
12.5
27.0 {only 1 year of data}
12.5
2014-2019
new program
2013-2018
Early Childhood Education
2015-2020
12.5
132.2
129.4
2014-2019
12.5
129.4
126.8
2013-2018
12.5
126.8
126.0
Educational Technology
2015-2020
6
7
8.4
2014-2019
6
8.4
10.6
2013-2018
6
10.6
13.4
Educator Leadership
2015-2020
6
9.0 {only 1 year of data}
6
2014-2019
new program
2013-2018
English
2015-2020
12.5
55.0
55.6
2014-2019
12.5
55.6
58.4
2013-2018
12.5
58.4
62.8
Elementary Education
2015-2020
12.5
109.0
109.8
2014-2019
12.5
109.8
111.8
2013-2018
12.5
111.8
112.4
Exercise & Sports Science
2015-2020
12.5
339.0
358.4
2014-2019
12.5
358.4
368.6
2013-2018
12.5
368.6
368.4
Fine Arts
2015-2020
12.5
99.0
102.0
2014-2019
12.5
102.0
104.0
2013-2018
12.5
104.0
106.2
History
2015-2020
12.5
32.6
34.8
2014-2019
12.5
34.8
35.8
2013-2018
12.5
35.8
38.4
Industrial Mathematics
{program closed in 2020}
2015-2020
12.5
6.4
12.5
2014-2019
12.5
8.2
12.5
2013-2018
12.5
9.8
12.5
Industrial Process Engineering
2015-2020
12.5
88.3 {only 4 years of data}
75.3
2014-2019
12.5
75.3 {only 3 years of data}
52.0
2013-2018
12.5
52.0 {only 2 years of data}
34.0
Interdisciplinary Studies
2015-2020
12.5
11.8
12.5
2014-2019
12.5
11.4
12.5
2013-2018
12.5
10.8
12.5
Masters of Business Administration
2015-2020
6.0
100.6
62.8
2014-2019
6.0
62.8 {only 4 years of data}
31.0
2013-2018
6.0
31.0 {only 3 years of data}
20.5
Math & Computer Science
2015-2020
12.5
195.6
237.2
2014-2019
12.5
237.2
249.2
2013-2018
12.5
249.2
244.8
Middle Level Education
2015-2020
12.5
33.8
33.8
2014-2019
12.5
33.8
32.6
2013-2018
12.5
32.6
33.6
Music
2015-2020
12.5
10.0 {only 1 year of data}
12.5
2014-2019
new program
2013-2018
Music Education
2015-2020
12.5
23.4
24.0
2014-2019
12.5
24.0
22.8
2013-2018
12.5
22.8
23.4
Nursing
2015-2020
12.5
542.8
544.8
2014-2019
12.5
544.8
552.2
2013-2018
12.5
552.2
570.0
Political Science
2015-2020
12.5
47.2
47.4
2014-2019
12.5
47.4
48.6
2013-2018
12.5
48.6
49.4
Psychology
2015-2020
12.5
195.6
192.6
2014-2019
12.5
192.6
187.2
2013-2018
12.5
187.2
184.0
Secondary Education
2015-2020
12.5
66.0
70.0
2014-2019
12.5
70.0
70.8
2013-2018
12.5
70.8
73.0
Sociology
2015-2020
12.5
133.0
140.0
2014-2019
12.5
140.0
146.8
2013-2018
12.5
146.8
155.0
Special Education
2015-2020
12.5
41.4
40.8
2014-2019
12.5
40.8
41.0
2013-2018
12.5
41.0
40.2
Writing
2015-2020
12.5
6 {only 1 year of data}
12.5
2014-2019
new program
2013-2018

Successful completion of courses contributes to student achievement and progression toward degree completion. Course completion is also linked to retention and graduation rates. Successful completion of a course ensures students have attained the knowledge and skills associated with their chosen fields of study, in keeping with the institution’s mission as a comprehensive institution that offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and professional disciplines. Successful completion is monitored by examining the complement measure of DFW rates (i.e., grades of D, D-, F, and withdrawals as a percent of all grades assigned) in all USC Aiken classes, regardless of location or delivery mode.

The aspirational target for DFW rates is based on empirical data from the corresponding semester from the previous year. The effort is to continuously improve by decreasing grades of DFW, while maintaining standards, and developing strategies to address those classes with the highest DFW rates. The minimum threshold of acceptibility for course completion is 75% - overall DFW rates should not exceed 25%.

DFW Rates
Academic Year
Semester
Maximum Threshold
Actual Value
Aspirational Target
2019-20
Spring
25%
14%
<16%
Fall
25%
18%
<17%
2018-19
Spring
25%
16%
<17%
Fall
25%
17%
<17%
2017-18
Spring
25%
17%
<17%
Fall
25%
17%
<17%
2016-17
Spring
25%
17%
<17%
Fall
25%
17%
<16%
2015-16
Spring
25%
17%
<17%
Fall
25%
16%
<17%

Retention of students is necessary if they are to successfully complete their chosen fields of study in a timely manner and enter the work force in careers to which they aspire. Further, in an environment where less than 15% of revenue comes from state appropriation, persistence of students becomes essential if the institution is to achieve its mission. Retention rates of first-time full-time freshmen are reported annually to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). The Office of Institutional Effectiveness, Research, and Compliance also tracks persistence of part-time freshmen, full-time transfer, and part-time transfer students and disaggregates the metric for each group by ethnicity and race. In keeping with federal requirements, persistence is also disaggregated by recipients of a Federal Pell grant, recipients of a subsidized Direct Loan who did not receive a Pell grant, and students who neither received a Pell grant nor a subsidized direct loan . Because there are a substantial number of veterans, military, and military affiliates at USC Aiken and a sizeable proportion of the student body are first generation students, first-year retention is also disaggregated for these groups. Tables showing these disaggregated retention rates are available from the analytic reports site under the Internal Data menu.

USC Aiken compares its performance on first-year retention to the median value of our national aspirational peer group (i.e., we strive to be at or above 50% of our aspirational peers). In recognition that small year-to-year fluctuations may not represent meaningful change or differences, USC Aiken has set a minimum threshold of acceptability at the 25th percentile of its comparable national peer group.

First-time Full-time Retention Rates
Year
Minimum Threshold
Actual Value
Aspirational Target
2019 to 2020
62%
65%
74%
2018 to 2019
62%
64%
74%
2017 to 2018
62%
68%
75%

Graduation in six years or less of first-time full-time freshmen are reported annually to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS. The Office of Institutional Effectiveness, Research, and Compliance also tracks six year graduation rates of part-time freshmen, full-time transfer, and part-time transfer students and disaggregates the metric for each group by ethnicity and race. In keeping with federal requirements, the six year graduation rate is also disaggregated by recipients of a Federal Pell grant, recipients of a subsidized Direct Loan who did not receive a Pell grant, and students who neither received a Pell grant nor a subsidized direct loan . Because there are a substantial number of veterans, military, and military affiliates at USC Aiken and a sizeable proportion of the student body are first generation students, the six year graduation rate is also disaggregated for these groups. Tables showing these disaggregated retention rates are available from the analytic reports site under the Internal Data menu.

USC Aiken compares its performance on first-year retention to the median value of our national aspirational peer group (i.e., we strive to be at or above 50% of our aspirational peers). In recognition that small year-to-year fluctuations may not represent meaningful change or differences, USC Aiken has set a minimum threshold of acceptability at the 25th percentile of its comparable national peer group.

Six-Year Full-time Freshman Graduation Rates
Entering Year
Minimum Threshold
Actual Value
Aspirational Target
2013-14
35%
39%
57%
2012-13
33%
40%
55%
2011-12
29%
41%
55%

The 8-year outcomes metric documents the status of students eight years after entering the institution. The metric includes a report of the enrollment and completion status of all students who started throughout the year from July 1st through June 30th, regardless of when they entered and regardless of whether they are first-time students, transfer students, full-time students, or part-time students.

USC Aiken compares its performance on the 8-year outcome metric to the median value of our national aspirational peer group (i.e., we strive to be at or above 50% of our aspirational peers). In recognition that small year-to-year fluctuations may not represent meaningful change or differences, USC Aiken has set a minimum threshold of acceptability at the 25th percentile of its comparable national peer group.

Eight-Year Outcomes Graduation Rates
Year
Minimum Threshold
Actual Value
Aspirational Target
2020-21
36.7%
45.1%
57.1%
2019-20
33.4%
47.1%
58.5%
2018-19
33.5%
47.4%
56.4%
2017-18
33.8%
45.4%
56.5%

The completion of program requirements and awarding of a degree is the principal outcome measure of success. Like program enrollments, it is important to offer programs for which there is interest and a need. Tax-payers expect universities to be good stewards and they both demand and deserve a return on appropriated dollars in the form of credentialed graduates prepared to contribute to society.

Degrees awarded are disaggregated by each major program of study. The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education has established program productivity standards. Baccalaureate degree programs must have a minimum of 8 degrees awarded annually averaged over a five-year period. The same productivity standards required a minimum of 3 degrees awarded averaged over a five-year period for master’s degrees. Tables showing degrees awarded by major are available from the analytic reports site under the Internal Data menu.

USC Aiken compares its performance on the overall degrees awarded to the median value of our national aspirational peer group (i.e., we strive to be at or above 50% of our aspirational peers). For overall degrees awarded, USC Aiken has set a minimum threshold of acceptability at the 25th percentile of its comparable national peer group.

Overall Degrees Awarded
Year
Degree Level
Minimum Threshold
Actual Value
Aspirational Target
2020-21
Baccalaureate
602
Masters
114
2019-20
Baccalaureate
329
572
848
Masters
57
70
154
2018-19
Baccalaureate
301
540
854
Masters
56
34
131
2017-18
Baccalaureate
309
538
876
Masters
48
20
161
2016-17
Baccalaureate
306
495
914
Masters
61
12
151
Note: 2019-20 data are preliminary - institutions can make adjustments to their degrees awarded data for up to a year

The pass rate for licensure exams serve as an indicator of the quality of instruction and student achievement in professional disciplines such as nursing and education. Among education students, pass rates for all test takers on Praxis professional knowledge, Praxis principles of learning and teaching, and Praxis speacilaty content knowledge exams are tracked. Overall summary performance on PRAXIS is provided below, and the dissagregated performance is available from IE Reports located on the Compliance Reports site under the External Reports menu. Among nursing students, first-time performance on the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX) is noted.

In all cases, the institution aspires to be above the state-wide average performance on licensure exams. Exceeding the statewide pass rate serves as a testament of the quality of professional instruction at USC Aiken. The minimum threshold of acceptibility for NCLEX has been set by the State at 5% below the annual National pass rate. The State Department of Education has set a minimum threshold of acceptibility for the PRAXIS pass rate at 80%, below which an institution is considered "at risk."

State Licensure Exam Pass Rates
Year
Exam
Minimum Threshold
Actual Value
Aspirational Target
2019-20
PRAXIS Education
80.0%
94.0%
>98.0%
NCLEX Nursing
83.8%
96.1%
>91.7%
2018-19
PRAXIS Education
80.0%
73.0%
>77.4%
NCLEX Nursing
83.9%
97.2%
>89.8%
2017-18
PRAXIS Education
80.0%
77.4%
>78.7%
NCLEX Nursing
82.8%
93.9%
>87.1%


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