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In her July 30, 2013 e-mail asserting, “We are on the right course,” TSTC West Texas President Gail Lawrence stated, “TSTC has increased its number of awards by more than 35% in the last four years.” Now, when I first blew by that statement a week or two back, I assumed she meant her own college, TSTC West Texas. All of the other bullets in that e-mail’s listing of “facts” and accomplishments pertained to West Texas, so I figured that one was about West Texas, as well. It finally dawned on me that maybe she meant “TSTC” as a system when she made that statement, particularly after I examined the following images and data on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s “Higher Education Accountability System” website.

First, to get degrees or awards students need to finish their course of study. As the image below reveals, TSTC West Texas had the worst graduation and persistence rate of any other college in the TSTC system in FY 2011, the last year for which the Co-Board has posted data online. Having an enrollment crisis in conjunction with a rotten graduation and persistence rate doesn’t bode well for increasing the number of awards.

TSTC Graduation and Persistence Rate FY 2000 thru FY 2011 130809

The image below shows the total number of awards, including associate degrees, certificate I and certificate II awards, recorded by the Co-Board for all four major TSTC campuses. As readers can see for themselves, everyone is up from FY 2009’s total EXCEPT TSTC West Texas, which registered its poorest showing in the years for which data are reflected. Of course, Fall 2008 (the first quarter of FY 2009) is when TSTC West Texas began preparing for the new funding model in earnest.

TSTC All Campuses Degrees Awarded FY 2000 thru FY 2012 130809

The Co-Board doesn’t count marketable skills awards or MSAs in its total awards tally, but they are a little up at West Texas for what that’s worth.

TSTC Marketable Skills Completers 130809

This final image (see the data for “Key 3”) shows that TSTC West Texas administrators told the legislature that the college would hand out 396 degrees and certificates in FY 2012. It turns out that they were a bit optimistic, eh? Oh, and check out the date of the image: 10/12/2012. FY 2012 had ended on August 31st. I would have thought they’d have known exactly how many awards they had passed out in FY 2012 by then, about a month and half into FY 2013.

TSTC West Texas LAR p 15 submitted 10-12-1012  130809

Nope, awards haven’t increased at TSTC West Texas, at least not through FY 2012. President Lawrence was apparently talking about all four major TSTC campuses as a whole and not just little ol’ (and getting littler all the time) TSTC West Texas. We’ll see what we see when the Co-Board posts FY 2013 data in a few months. After years of steadily declining awards, will the college achieve the 400 degrees and certificates it predicted for FY 2013 in its legislative appropriations request? Even a crashing aircraft eventually stops dropping.

Let’s hope the fall 2013 enrollment stops the drop.