4.1 The institution evaluates success with respect to student achievement consistent with its mission. Criteria may include: enrollment data; retention, graduation, course completion, and job placement rates; state licensing examinations; student portfolios; or other means of demonstrating achievement of goals. (Student achievement)
Findings of the Off-Site Reaffirmation Committee
The University of New Orleans evaluates success with respect to student achievement. The university’s mission states that the institution is “committed to providing educational excellence to a diverse undergraduate and graduate student body.” As part of the university’s strategic plan, two strategic planning goals are related to student achievement and four action steps are directly related to student achievement. Annually, the university reports student achievement data to the Board of Regents as required by the GRAD Act. The university examines retention rates (1st to 2nd year and 1st to 3rd year), graduation rates, award productivity, percent change in program completers, and the concurrent enrollment of high school students. The institution documented multiple years, having tracked this data as part of the GRAD Act since 2008-2009. These measures are consistent with the institution’s mission and assist in fulfilling the institution’s accountability reporting mandates at the state level. However, the university provided only licensure data from the College of Education and Human Development. The evaluation of student achievement as evidenced by licensing examination pass rates is incomplete given the number of programs offered by the university that lead to state or professional licensure.
Response and Actions Taken
Only two colleges require students to take state licensing examinations. Only the College of Education and Human Development requires passage of a professional examination. As described in more detail below, the College of Engineering does not require passage of the licensing examination for graduation. No other degree program at the University of New Orleans requires students to take a professional examination.
College of Education and Human Development
As reported in the Compliance Certification, the College of Education and Human Development requires all students in undergraduate and graduate initial teacher education degree programs to complete content and principles of teaching PRAXIS examinations required by the Louisiana Department of Education.
Undergraduate teacher education programs include: B.S. Early Childhood Education, B.S. Elementary Education, B.S. Elementary Education – Integrated/Merged Option, B.S. Secondary Education – English, Biology, Chemistry, Earth/Environmental Science, Mathematics, Social Studies.
Graduate programs include the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Curriculum & Instruction (Early Childhood, Elementary, Elementary Integrated/Merged, Middle School Education and Secondary Education) and the Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Special Education (Early Intervention, Elementary Integrated/Merged, Middle School Integrated/Merged, Secondary Education Integrated/Merged, Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Significant Disabilities).
College of Engineering
Professional licensure is not required of the graduates of the bachelor degree programs of the College of Engineering, but is required for many job situations – especially those where the safety and well-being of the public are directly affected by work product and process. To this end there is a nationally normed set of exams that, if successfully completed, will lead to professional licensure.
The first of these exams is the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. It may be taken by any student in an ABET accredited program who is within 30 hours of completion of the BS degree.
At the UNO College of Engineering all graduating seniors (those within 30 hours of degree completion) are required to take the FE exam, which is discipline specific. They do so, when taking a course, ENGR 3090, Engineering Senior Seminar. The course is actually an FE exam preparation course. The course includes a mock FE exam that all students take and pass.
The students take the real FE late in the fall or spring academic semester before graduation.
The students are not required to pass the real FE exam. There are multiple reasons for this:
- The Engineering faculty are not comfortable with an external agency determining who can graduate, if in fact, the students do not have to pass the FE to be a practicing engineer.
- Until this spring the test results were never available before graduation.
The faculty of the college does use the results of the professional licensure examination. They recognize that not all students earnestly try to pass the exam, but most do. Even though students are not required to pass, the faculty monitor the UNO student success rates in these exams to confirm they are not far from the national average rates. If there is a significant difference in the rates, there is more investigation into cause.
The faculty use the data provided by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, NCEES (the examination body) as part of the Institutional Effectiveness process to assess what they might do to improve courses and curriculum. The college receives detailed data not only about the seniors who have taken the exam, but about any alumni who have taken the most recent tests.