The Tennessee Board of Regents website has several new interactive tools – including Data Dashboards – that make it easier for Tennesseans to track and analyze data related to the student success and workforce development missions of the TBR system’s 40 community and technical colleges.
The Data Dashboard for the 27 colleges of applied technology became accessible on TBR.edu in late March, several months after the dashboard for the system’s 13 community colleges was posted. The dashboards give users access to a broad array of information on the colleges – as a system and separately by institution – currently and over time. Data posted there include student enrollment, enrollment by program, student demographics and such performance measures as retention and graduation rates, award trends, and job placement and licensure exam passage rates.
The new interactive Tennessee Education & Workforce Maps compare labor market and demographic trends with existing educational offerings and campus locations. The data is presented in color-coded, layered maps down to census-tract level for easy analysis. The maps include the job outlook in various business, healthcare, information technology, manufacturing and transportation fields across Tennessee, and where the closest academic and career programs are available to prepare students for those jobs.
All the tools are accessible through the Data tab on tbr.edu, and directly at https://www.tbr.edu/policy-strategy/data-and-research
The new tools are part of a broader, ongoing transparency initiative by the Board of Regents and the College System of Tennessee, which the board governs. For example, TBR has for several years posted on its website all of its policies, archived videos of board meetings and board meeting materials, research on “high impact practices” for improving student success, information about public records requests, a searchable employee salary database and an array of other information. The new interactive dashboards and maps add considerably more data, and make the information much easier to access, analyze and use -- by the public, other researchers and TBR staff.
“TBR has been creating and expanding data tools for the past year or so, and these new features enhance our understanding of institutional performance data immensely,” said Dr. Russ Deaton, TBR executive vice chancellor for policy and strategy.
“For the first time, we have a college profile for each of our 27 colleges of applied technology, which goes into detail about enrollment, graduation, job placement rates, and more. These profiles and an expansion of the TBR Dashboard for all 40 colleges provide campus personnel, board members, partners in industry, lawmakers, the public, and others key information about our schools that has never been in place before. It is not only an accountability tool but also a guide to where we have seen successes and where challenges remain.”
The new dashboards also include information and metrics on Tennessee’s unique public higher education outcomes-based funding formula and its funding for the system as a whole and each college over time.
They also include status reports on the system’s new Warranty program for graduates of technical programs. The warranty, proposed by Chancellor Flora W. Tydings and approved by the Board of Regents, went into effect in December and provides retraining – free of charge -- for graduates of technical career programs who are unable to perform one or more of the competencies described as an outcome for their program, for up to one year after their graduation. The warranty dashboard displays the number of warranties issued and the number of claims to date.
In addition to public transparency and accountability, the new interactive data tools give system and college level administrators, faculty and staff easier access to information to help improve teaching practices to improve student success.
“We are regularly looking at what our campuses need in terms of professional development, particularly for faculty,” Dr. Heidi Leming, vice chancellor for student success, said. “When we take the data and know where the gaps might be -- why students aren’t moving through as successfully as we like-- then we can try to look, with our campuses, at those pedagogical approaches that might help those students. And wraparound support services too. Sometimes it’s not just what’s in the classroom; it’s the other supports that students might need.”
The Education & Workforce Maps can help the College System align course offerings and facility plans with real-world education and employment needs of local communities. TBR worked with Atlanta-based TSW, a consulting firm with a long history of higher education planning in Tennessee, to create the maps.
“As far as I know, no other state has examined on a state-wide level the educational and employment need and demand dynamics, and then overlaid those findings with what is currently being offered by higher education,” Deaton said. “We can identify where additional job training is needed and where our institutions need to make investments. This sharper focus will benefit TBR, the students, employers and our state as a whole.”
The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.