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2. Planning & Evaluation

Description | Appraisal | Projection | Exhibits


As member of the Connecticut Community-Technical College System, Capital Community College is guided by planning and evaluation that occurs at several levels: the Board of Governors for Higher Education (statewide), the Board of Trustees of the Connecticut Community-Technical College System (systemwide) and the College itself. The Board of Governors for Higher Education, whose policies are administered by the Department of Higher Education (DHE), is responsible for initial and continuing review and approval of all institutions and programs of higher learning operating in the State of Connecticut, including regulations for licensure and accreditation of  Capital Community College and its programs (Exhibit 2.1).

The Board of Trustees of the Community-Technical Colleges has established a planning model and articulated strategic goals for the twelve colleges. The Connecticut Community College System Integrated Planning and Budgeting Report includes the Strategic Planning Process and Model, the System Strategic Plan, and the Board of Trustees Policy Manual (Exhibit 2.1).

Hence, both planning and evaluation at Capital Community College respond to a complex of educational perspectives emanating from the Board of Governors, the Board of Trustees, the College administration, and the College Governance System.


Capital Community College’s planning fits within the frameworks described above and aligns systemwide goals with local goals and objectives. Representatives from the College are involved in system planning efforts, and the President is a member of the body that writes the system plan. Larger numbers of College staff are more fully engaged in the planning that takes place at the campus level where fertile dialogue can arise between the administration and the collegial governance bodies. Over the past ten years, a strategic planning design has been evolving to match the particular challenges of the College and to balance policy and practice on campus. The history of that progress is reported in a synopsis of Strategic Planning at Capital Community College 1997-2006 (Exhibit 2.2). The final two segments of that history are pertinent to the College’s current planning efforts, as described below.

The last phase of the 2001-2006 strategic planning cycle was initiated by Capital’s new President in the spring of 2005. He appointed a planning committee representing all areas of the College to develop a set of goals and objectives for the next planning cycle. A subcommittee of the Strategic Planning Committee reviewed and revised the College Mission statement. After the revision was approved by the full committee, it was presented to and approved by the College Senate and then by the President. The revised statement serves as a cornerstone for the goals and objectives of the emerging strategic plan. (See also Standard 1.)

The Strategic Planning Committee is co-chaired by a Dean and a Department Chair and includes representatives of the College Senate, a collaboration designed to integrate departmental and governance committee perspectives into the strategic plan. The current planning process has been more robust, systematic and inclusive than previous ones and has included a faculty-led SWOT analysis done by the entire internal community, multiple stakeholder meetings with external groups, and focus groups and surveys of community members, students and faculty. The new plan will also tie goals and objectives to funding, a linkage that had not been formalized in the previous plan. Short term planning takes place within individual divisions and departments annually and responds to strategic plan initiatives, presidential priorities for the year, and departmental priorities.

As in the previous planning cycle, when the goals of a Title III grant were built into the strategic plan, in the current planning cycle an external grant application also provides a parallel planning process with complementary objectives. The 2005-2006 Achieving the Dream initiative, a year of institutional study leading to an application for a four-year grant, has generated close examination of student data and careful analysis of barriers to student success. Reports generated by this initiative have informed the College’s present strategic planning process, and, reciprocally, the Achieving the Dream grant application will be informed by emerging College strategic goals.

The College relies on data from many sources to support planning and assessment. The Institutional Research Office methodically collects and distributes data. The following are serving as the basis for development of the current plan: BANNER system data, multiple economic and labor reports that constitute an external scan of the environment, student learning assessment results, graduate and new student surveys, program reviews, departmental assessments, the Community College Survey of Student Engagement information, focus group input and outcome data generated as part of the Achieving the Dream initiative.

The College’s planning and assessment data are incorporated in an electronic institutional assessment portfolio on the College’s website (Exhibit 2.3). The portfolio was first developed as part of a NEASC-funded project in which ten New England colleges and universities were asked to pilot such portfolios as a means of communicating assessment data to internal and external constituencies. The web format allows users to easily find planning and assessment materials and to view the linkages between the planning and assessment processes.


The College’s most concentrated evaluation efforts have centered on the academic program. As detailed in Standard Four, an institutional focus since 1999 has been the assessment of student progress toward the achievement of learning outcomes within programs and across program lines in general education. The findings of general education assessments have guided changes in curriculum and instruction. These included the establishment of an enriched developmental mathematics course, regular assessment of student learning in selected areas of mathematics, an enhanced developmental reading curriculum, changes in prerequisites to assure that students will complete writing requirements early in their course of study, and a growing emphasis on writing across the curriculum. Data-based inquiry has been formative in establishing a College Success course and learning communities. Program assessment has also resulted in significant curricular change.

Review of degree programs at the College follows a systemwide program review model (Exhibit 2.4).For those programs with specific standards set by national accrediting agencies, the College follows national models. For example, the Nursing Division uses the standards set by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission. Program reviews involve internal criteria as well as the external perspectives of advisory boards and local employers. They focus on College mission, critical success indicators, measures and standards (program mission, design, outcomes, resources and support services), identified weaknesses, strengths, recommendations, completion requirements, curriculum, linkages (external agreements and affiliations), general education requirements, graduate employment and program resources.

Other areas of the college have also been active in evaluation. The Student Services Division has developed a common assessment methodology with other colleges in the System that will be piloted in the coming academic year (Exhibit 2.5). Particular areas of student services are subject to external evaluations. For instance, the Financial Aid department undergoes regular audits by the federal and state departments of education. Other evaluation procedures include the Faculty Development and Review Plan, which includes student ratings of courses each semester and periodic evaluation of teachers as detailed in Standard 5.

Standardized instruments to evaluate institutional effectiveness have included the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) and the Community College Survey of Faculty Student Engagement (CCSFSE) (Exhibits 2.6 & 2.7). The College has used these to assess commonalities and discrepancies between faculty and students in their responses to the college environment. As part of the Achieving the Dream initiative, focus groups and surveys of graduates and student cohorts have rendered data that has been used to gauge institutional effectiveness.



The College has achieved most of the objectives in the current strategic plan which spans the years 2002 to 2006. A report on the accomplishment of the objectives is available for the community in the electronic institutional assessment portfolio on the website (Exhibit 2.8) and was reviewed at an All-College Meeting. While the allocation of resources on the basis of the plan was not done in a formal manner, units did receive funding to accomplish the objectives. Short term departmental planning was the engine that drove the completion of the longer term strategic objectives. While the 2002-2006 plan contained elements related to marketing, facilities, assessment/evaluation, and technology, it has become apparent that separate plans may be needed to elaborate the activities in these areas.

The strategic planning cycle that is ending this year was not well understood by many college staff. Some felt that the goals and objectives were poorly focused, and others felt that the planning process had been driven more by short-term grants than by long-term goals (Exhibit 2.9). The history of the planning process (Exhibit 2.2) details some of the factors that led to concerns about lack of inclusiveness and shifting responsibilities for strategic planning at the College over the past five years. For the current planning cycle, however, a more methodical and inclusive process is in progress with a new strategic planning committee undertaking the design of a unified plan to guide operational goals, objectives, evaluations, and budget allocations. Where the past plan assigned all implementation responsibility to the deans, the new plan includes delineation of responsibility to line staff, thus widening engagement in the process. The new President has responded to previous concerns about lack of inclusiveness by adjusting the membership and leadership of the strategic planning committee to assure that all components of the college community are well represented.


Units of the College differ in their adoption of evaluation methods. Evaluation has evolved into an integrated effort in the Academic Division and in various areas of Student Services and Continuing Education. The Business Office and the Information Technology Department are beginning assessment activities through locally devised satisfaction surveys. However, this leaves important areas of the College where evaluation is needed, including Marketing and Public Relations, Human Resources, Development, and Institutional Research.

As noted above, evaluations at an institutional level have included the administration of CCSSE, CCFSSE, graduate and new student surveys, and focus groups. It also includes tracking entering cohorts of students for six years to measure their achievement of institutional outcomes such as successful completion of developmental and entry level credit courses, transfer, and graduation. Results of the institutional level evaluations have illustrated that students experience the College as a single system and thus evaluation needs to be centrally coordinated. Although the College has focused intensely on elements of evaluation for five years, a formal assessment plan, with a structure and funding for coordination, is not in place.



The President’s vigorous new strategic planning process is underway. The Strategic Planning Committee, working with a newly revised mission statement, is developing the goals, objectives and benchmarks of a strategic plan for 2006-2011. Unachieved objectives from the previous plan will be reassessed and incorporated into the new plan as necessary. The inclusiveness of committee membership ensures community awareness and investment that was missing from the previous plan. It also provides a platform for the integration of the goals and objectives for all of the operational divisions of the College. The President is committed to linking the college budget to the strategic goals and objectives.

When the existing Strategic Planning Committee completes the 2006-2011 plan, the committee will be folded into a newly constituted Strategic Planning and Review Committee under the College’s collegial governance structure. This restoration of governance participation in ongoing planning will assure continued dialogue about priorities and wider understanding of the planning process. A ll college plans will continue to be collected in the electronic institutional assessment portfolio and hyperlinked to assessment results.

Recognizing the need for a specific plan for the support and assessment of technology, the Dean of Administration is currently working with the governance structure’s Information Resources Management Committee. The new technology plan will include the development of strategies for IR assessment, facilities and marketing. Other governance committees will be invited to participate.


A newly-hired Director of Institutional Research will play a major role in institutional effectiveness assessment. The Director of Institutional Research will collect and analyze data on institutional outcomes such as graduation, retention and transfer rates. As part of the Achieving the Dream initiative, the Director of Institutional Research will track entering cohorts for six years, enabling faculty and staff to clearly see trends in student achievement of established benchmarks: successful completion of developmental and gateway courses and graduation. The Director of Institutional Research will compare these baseline results with data on efforts to improve Capital’s scores on CCSSE benchmarks: student effort, active and collaborative learning, support for students, faculty student interaction, and academic challenge. In addition, the Director will coordinate a collegewide evaluation/ assessment plan, posting results in the institutional assessment portfolio, and assessing the assessment efforts. The resulting structure for evaluation will enable deans to lead operational and strategic assessment within divisions while the Office of Institutional Research coordinates these and other institutional effectiveness assessment efforts and communicates results.


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