McDowell Technical Community College ranks first in the state when it comes to having the highest student-course success rate among all 58 community colleges in North Carolina.

President John Gossett recently received this notification in a letter from Linda Scuiletti, associate vice president for assessment, planning and research with the N.C. Community College System office (NCCCS). Scuiletti is also community college system’s accreditation liaison for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

“Fully 82 percent of McDowell (Tech) students who enroll in a course end up completing it with an A, B, C or P,” read the letter from Scuiletti. “Course rates for colleges across the state range from a lot of 63 percent to 82 percent.”

This comes after the local college was ranked in September as second highest in the state for performance in seven key areas that are identified and measured by the community college system.

“We are very proud of our performance measures,” said Gossett on Thursday.

Scuiletti has invited Gossett and another MTCC administrator to present some of the college’s strategies for boosting student-course success rates at the 2017 Performance Partnership Summit to be held in Cary in late July, according to a news release from the college.

“We are very pleased with this ranking,” said Gossett, “and we are excited to have the opportunity to present at this year’s Performance Partnership Summit. It gave me a great deal of satisfaction to share this news with our faculty and staff, as it validates that what we are doing to help our students be successful is indeed working.”

“In some ways, we are fortunate to be a smaller college," said Penny Cross, vice president for learning at McDowell Tech. "It allows us to provide a more personal touch and to implement meaningful success strategies with students who may be struggling due to any number of reasons from personal and family issues to poor academic preparation for the classes in which they are enrolled. We try to engage students in classroom success, regardless of their prior preparation, work schedules or motivation.”

Cross and Gossett said there are several examples of ways in which individual faculty members, departments and programs have developed proven success strategies that work for them and their students.

The Nursing Department, for example, uses the Compliance Assessment and Review Program, also known by the acronym “CARP,” to identify students who may need additional assistance in their nursing studies. Nursing faculty also complete review testing each semester to accomplish similar goals.

In the Early College Program, students who need extra academic support come to extended class sessions on Saturday. Some students are required to attend these classes based on grade performance, while others choose to attend the classes when they feel the need for special assistance, beyond what is provided during traditional weekday classes.

In addition, the Early College has achieved a great deal of success using an early alert system to notify students and their parents when a student’s grades are dropping, he/she is not completing assignments or turning in work in a timely fashion, or when the student is missing or skipping class too frequently. Meetings are often set up between instructors, administrators, students and their parents to identify what may have led to these problems and ways to prevent future recurrence, according to the news release.

Some faculty members, like Instructor Chip Cross, set up special study sessions for students, even those who are taking online classes. These are voluntary sessions, of course, but those who avail themselves of this opportunity often find them helpful.

Other instructors, like Terrance Walsh, have found that today’s students respond better to video learning and has incorporated video and computer-based training into his classes and curriculum.

“The bottom line, is that our faculty are very adept at finding solutions to overcoming whatever roadblocks and obstacles hinder our students from achieving success,” said Gossett in a news release. “This ranking proves that when our students are successful, we are successful.”