TCC President Jim Murdaugh announces record graduation rate after years of little progress

TCC Commencement Ceremony Fall 2023.
TCC Commencement Ceremony Fall 2023.

Tallahassee Community College has set a new record with a “staggering” increase in graduation rates.

TCC President Jim Murdaugh announced Wednesday that the college’s three-year graduation rate is now at 42% — a 5% increase over the past year, placing the college above the average for institutions in the Florida College System.

The improvement comes after TCC has been having less than 1% of growth in the student success metric each year when evaluating three-year graduation rates of student cohorts that started attending the college from 2016 to 2019.

“These kinds of outcomes don’t happen overnight,” Murdaugh said in a prepared statement. “They are the result of a long-standing, continuous focus on ensuring students have the access, support, resources and instruction they need to succeed.”

“Most importantly, these outcomes are a credit to the grit and determination of the students themselves,” he added.

Tallahassee Community College President Jim Murdaugh
Tallahassee Community College President Jim Murdaugh

Other TCC news: Who's featured in TCC's 24th annual African American history calendar? Find out here

The increase also comes after the college has been trying to address the lagging graduation rate of its Black students over the years.

Struggles to close the graduation gap between Black and white students has affected the college’s performance when being considered for the Aspen Institute’s annual $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, where the institute researches highly effective student success strategies to spotlight community colleges achieving post-graduate success.

Among three-year graduation rates, the percentage of difference between Black and white students has been 16.6% for TCC's 2018 cohort and 17.6% for its 2019 cohort.

But the gap has narrowed with the most recent three-year graduation rates showing a percentage difference of 15.6% between the Black and white student cohort that started attending TCC in 2020 before graduating by 2023.

Graduation rates for nearly all student subgroups of the college have increased, according to TCC reports, and the gap between Black and white students has narrowed by 9% since the 2016 cohort, where the percentage difference was 24.4%.

Tallahassee Community College's campus.
Tallahassee Community College's campus.

What contributed to TCC’s record graduation rate?

As TCC's faculty and staff work on promoting a student-centered environment, their efforts along with the college’s strategic plan for student success are contributing factors that helped make the record high graduate rate a reality, according to a TCC spokesperson.

A comprehensive student services model called C.A.R.E. — which stands for connections, academics, resources and engagement — is a part of TCC’s strategic priorities for success as it focuses on key areas that impact student learning.

Through the college’s strategic plan, incorporating data-informed teaching and learning techniques is also credited for the graduation rate improvements along with targeted support services such as peer mentoring initiatives.

In addition, a program called Pathways to Persistence Process was created at TCC to provide direct academic support to newly enrolled students and provides all first-time-in-college students with academic success coaches.

Minority targeted enrichment programs were also put in place at the college to increase retention and completion for students of color through efforts such as leadership and social development, academic support and career guidance.

“We regularly and consistently evaluate every part of the student lifecycle to monitor trends, find gaps and implement targeted practices and programs where and when they are needed most,” Murdaugh said in a release. “We have some of the most dedicated and talented administrators, staff and instructors in the business, and they work hard each and every day for our students.”

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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: TCC President Jim Murdaugh announces record three-year graduation rate