Access, Completion & Community

Northeast State is committed to student success. In fact, the college’s mission focuses on educational access and the lifelong educational development of residents.

One mechanism for Northeast State to achieve its mission is by aligning with Governor Bill Haslam’s goal to increase the number of Tennesseans with a degree or credential to 55% by 2025. This initiative is called “Drive to 55.” Northeast State and Tennessee community colleges are working to improve student outcomes and increase student completion rates.

Since 2010, Tennessee has pursued an ambitious completion agenda, committed to policy innovation focused on significantly increasing educational attainment among Tennesseans. For Tennessee to reach its completion goals, the state must fundamentally change how it approaches higher education and measures progress, while reinforcing deep commitment among all stakeholders to the completion agenda. 

Tennessee took ambitious and comprehensive action toward this end with the passage of the Complete College Tennessee Act (CCTA) in 2010, which established a direct link between the state’s economic development and its educational systems, and effectively recognized increased educational attainment as the state’s primary need relative to higher education.

This year, these broad reform efforts have been further strengthened by the launch of Governor Haslam’s Drive to 55 campaign – a series of initiatives to galvanize Tennessee around a set of specific strategies to move from a 32% postsecondary attainment rate to 55% by 2025. Increasing college completion is among Tennessee’s top priorities.

Below are a few of Northeast State’s completion-focused initiatives:

Expansion of college access to within 20-30 miles of every citizen in the Northeast Tennessee five-county region (Carter, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties) through expansion of teaching sites and implementation of additional ITV classrooms/options from seven to 13.

Implementation of the Bridge Math Course and Project SAILS (Standardized Assessment of Information Literacy Skills) at 14 high schools in fall 2013. The courses are competency-based, mastery-based and lab-based. Click here to view Project SAILS video.   

Implementation and expansion of Structured Learning Communities and accelerated learning options. Northeast State added a cohort in fall 2013 to include target populations that have the highest attrition rate. The college implemented the “mini-mester” in spring 2013 in which students can take a course each month; and the college restructured registration and financial aid processes to make enrollment in the middle of the semester possible.  

Expansion of dual enrollment through more course offerings in University Parallel programs and Associate of Applied Science degree and certificate courses to focus on workforce development. The goal is to have access for high school students to complete at least one year of a degree/certificate before graduating high school. 

Expansion of our capacity to serve through restructuring the organization, integration of technology, applications and more efficient processes. In fall 2012, Northeast State reduced the number of vice presidents from seven to four. During the last four years, more full-time faculty, staff, front-line and dean positions were added in Academic Affairs and Student Affairs. Northeast State integrated a paperless workflow system, which helped save an estimated $30,000 in 2012 in Admissions, Financial Aid, Business and Human Resources offices. In fact, Northeast State’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society challenged faculty in fall 2013 to go paperless. Additional examples of capacity expansion include, but are not limited to:

  • Implementation of the DegreeWorks and Degree Compass programs
  • Integration of TVAAS data to improve the predictability of student success
  • Outsourcing part of Financial Aid to include a call center and verification processes (implemented summer 2013)
  • Addition of a help center to assist students in applying for financial aid and scholarships (implemented spring 2013)
  • Implementation of SciQuest to move purchasing/vendor-related functions and travel requests online
  • Implementation of an Ad-hoc Report Generation and Output Solution program (ARGOS)
  • Hired a lean management/Six Sigma consultant to review processes and integrate technology to improve effectiveness and efficiency 

Expansion of partnerships with public and private secondary schools, public and private higher education institutions and with business and industry to provide as many open doors as possible for students and future students. Several higher education partner agreements were signed for transfer and reverse transfer, dual enrollment and dual admissions. Northeast State was recognized in April 2013 by the American Association of Community Colleges for College/Corporate Partnership with Eastman Chemical Company, the Economic and Community Development (ECD) department and the city of Kingsport for the expansion of our Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing (from less than 100 students in fall 2009 to more than 400 in fall of 2013). The college was awarded a $10 million grant from the ECD to expand that regional model, programs and services to better serve the region’s workforce and economic development needs.

Improvement and expansion of academic and student support services to improve student success through grants, support staff and technology/applications: 

  • Hired Inside Track with support of a Lumina grant to implement coaching strategies for the identified populations that have the lowest completion rate
  • Implemented intrusive academic advising strategies to include the requirement of advisement prior to registration for targeted student populations
  • Deployed a software application to set up appointments through an online format with advisors and students and other support services and students
  • Initiated and continued the federal TRIO program that provides academic services and coaching, such as tutoring and guidance
  • Developed GPS/checklists for advisors/students to map out their academic plan and use DegreeWorks and Degree Compass to support those efforts electronically
  • Implemented an electronic system to get critical information to students in a more proactive manner so they may make better decisions and to reduce the number of calls/meetings students have to make

Design and construction of a new Emerging Technologies Complex through a commitment by the governor and state legislature to create a very inviting facility to grow student enrollment and enhanced skill sets directly related to workforce and economic development. The project is in the design phase, with construction scheduled to begin in fall 2014 with completion anticipated in 2016. 

Addition of new programs of study and scheduling/format options to enhance enrollment and completion. Cyber Security, entertainment technology and health informatics program development are under way with planned programs for Horticulture/Natural Resources, Culinary Arts, Building Construction and Energy Specialist implementation over the next five years. Northeast State offers “Weekend College” on the main campus with a current enrollment of 300 students.

Creation of a grant development office. The office supports the expansion of workforce development programs (more than $13 million in 2013, alone) and student support (TRIO, Lumina, College Access/THEC grants). These funds provide for development and expansion of programs to increase options for student enrollment/completion and support services to assist in completion.

Additional information regarding the CCTA can be found here. Additional information regarding the Drive to 55 program can be found here.