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Portland Community College Reviews Institutional Effectiveness

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Portland Community College students are often well prepared for studies at four-year colleges and for the workplace, according to a study released in December. The college’s Institutional Research department compiled data from area employers, recent graduates and the State System of Higher Education.

The study measured the college’s effectiveness in a variety of areas, including transferring students’ success at state four-year schools; graduates’ employment success; students’ progress toward educational goals; their completion of educational goals; students’ success in completing adult basic skills courses; and the college’s accessibility to residents.

Data from the State System of Higher Education shows that PCC students who transferred to Oregon’s four-year universities performed as well or better than students who started there, and as well or better than other Oregon community college students. Based on GPA data from Spring term 1995, 44.9 percent of all PCC transfer students earned a GPA of 3.0 or better at state four-year schools, compared to 43 percent of the students who started there, and to 44 percent of all other Oregon community college transfer students.

"This data reinforces our belief that our students are well prepared in the core courses that give them a solid foundation to succeed at Oregon’s four-year schools," said Dan Moriarty, Portland Community College president.

The survey shows that most PCC students transfer to Portland State University, 67.1 percent. Oregon State received the next highest number of transfer students, 12.9 percent, followed by the University of Oregon at 11.8 percent, with 8.2 percent spread among the other OSSHE schools.

One part of the study looked at how well PCC prepares graduates for additional study. Of the 278 surveyed during the 1995-96 academic year, 96.1 percent stated that they were "somewhat," "well" or "very well prepared," for additional study, while 41.7 percent said they were "very well prepared." In addition, 83.7 percent of those surveyed said the transfer program related to the PCC program of study.

Data on graduate success in the workplace was compiled from 222 area employers. In fall 1996, 62.6 percent of the employers surveyed indicated they were "very satisfied" with the job performance of their employees who had attended PCC; 91.4 percent indicated they were "very" or "somewhat satisfied."

In addition, 67.7 percent of the employers surveyed stated that students from PCC were "better prepared" or "prepared as well" as other employees in their work group. Of the same group of employers, 86.5 percent stated that the quality of training demonstrated by PCC students was "excellent," "more than adequate" or "adequate."

Employers were asked to rate training in specific skill areas. Work attitude ranked highest, with 93.7 percent of the employers reporting satisfaction, followed by technical knowledge at 92.0 percent. Math skills ranked lowest, 68.3 percent. Writing skills rated an 81 percent satisfaction rate.

Moriarty said, "These marks from employers are strong evidence for the high-quality training students receive in our programs. One explanation may be our ongoing partnerships with area employers that keep our faculty and students connected to the latest workforce trends. The survey validates our perception that PCC students exhibit a high degree of job and college transfer readiness."

The study also surveyed 1996 graduates of PCC’s professional and technical training programs who are now employed. Of those, 68.3 percent said their program of study is "directly" or "closely related" to their job.

One part of the study made comparisons between PCC medical career programs and other schools nationwide. Findings show:

  • The 1997 dental hygiene program student passing rate on the national certification exam ranked the group 11th out of 220 programs in the United States.
  • PCC’s 1996 graduates of the Ophthalmic Medical Technology program scored highest of all schools’ graduates nationwide on national certification exams.
  • In the Medical Lab Technology program, the highest score in the nation was achieved by a 1996 PCC graduate.
  • The 1996 radiography class passed the national certification exam with an average score that placed the program at the top of 750 U.S. programs.
  • The Nursing program class of ’96 averaged a 90 percent pass rate on the certification exam, versus an 87.5 national average pass rate and an 88.5 percent pass rate from other Oregon community colleges.

Regarding the college’s accessibility to the public, the report states that one out of five college-age district residents — 149,536 — enrolled in a credit or non-credit class at PCC during the last three years, an average of 67,782 per year.

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