Student Achievement 

Federal Requirement: 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)

UNF evaluates student achievement in relation to its mission primarily in the following areas: retention and graduation rates, degrees awarded by level, proficiency performance, state licensing examinations, and job placement rates. 


Retention and Graduation Rates


For many years, UNF has monitored the first-year retention rates of FTIC (First Time in College, or freshmen) student cohorts. It has also monitored the graduation rates of FTIC cohorts who started at UNF, plus that of students transferring from Florida state colleges to UNF with AA degrees.  A summary of the five most recent years of first-year retention rates [FY Retention] shows that FTICs who started at UNF between Fall 2008 and Fall 2012 achieved retention rates in their second Fall term between 81% to 84%. These rates represent an improvement over the previous years; for example, the first-year retention rate for the Fall 2007 FTIC cohort was only 77%. However, the percent of FTICs who were retained in the second Fall with a GPA of 2.0 or higher (i.e., with a passing grade) ranged from only 74% to 78% for the Fall 2008 to Fall 2012 cohorts [FY Retention]. Thus, about 6% to 8% of these FTICs were retained but with unsatisfactory results. The steps UNF has taken to assist these at-risk students are discussed below.


A review of the recent trends in graduation and retention rates for FTICs [Grad Rates] shows that the six-year graduation rates for the latest five FTIC cohorts ranged from 46% to 49% for those who graduated from UNF. These graduation rates place UNF at approximately the midpoint of performance for the State University System (SUS) institutions. If we add those students who started at UNF but graduated elsewhere in the SUS, the six-year rates were extended to 53%-57%. And if we also add those who did not graduate yet but were still enrolled either at UNF or elsewhere in the SUS, then the overall success rate (graduated plus still enrolled) ranged from 64% to 66%.  Further, if all colleges that participated in the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) are included in the graduation rate, then the success rate increased to about 82% [see VSA Chart and VSA Table for College Portrait snapshots from the Fall 2007 fulltime FTIC cohort]. A similar review of the graduation and retention rates for Florida state college AA transfers [Grad Rates] shows that the four-year graduation rates for the latest five AA transfer cohorts graduating from UNF were higher than those for FTICs, ranging from 63% to 70%; the corresponding figures for AA Transfers who first transferred to UNF but later graduated anywhere in the SUS ranged from 65% to 72%; and the corresponding success rates (graduated plus still enrolled) including other SUS institutions ranged from 75% to 80%. The College portrait four-year rates for the Fall 2007 cohort of fulltime AA Transfers was 84% (graduated from any VSA institution), with a success rate of 89% [VSA Chart and VSA Table]. Graduation rates are further discussed in the “Graduation Rates” section of President John Delaney’s 2012-13 annual self report to the UNF Board of Trustees [President]. UNF’s efforts to improve our retention and graduation rates are discussed next.


Retention and Graduation Rate Efforts


UNF has established a number of programs to ensure that students both progress and graduate in a timely manner.  Many programs provide fundamental academic skill building, while others provide access to an array of academic support services.  The Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) has established early intervention programs at the freshman/sophomore levels to help meet students’ needs.  UNF offers the following academic support programs to all students unless otherwise noted: 

  • College Success Skills courses focus on areas of student need, which include time management, textbook reading, effective note taking, study habits, test anxiety, learning styles, essay writing, and stress management. Additional topics are added as necessary.
  • The Early Academic Alert System allows faculty, through an online system, to refer underperforming students to academic advisors in ACE.  The system enables advisors to intervene with students and provide appropriate assistance and/or refer students to additional support resources if necessary.
  • Mid-term grade reports for all freshmen alert ACE advising staff to students who are not earning at least a “C” grade in coursework. The advising staff then intervenes with each student to determine why the student is not succeeding and then identifies alternatives, options, and behavior changes that may increase the student’s opportunities for success.
  • ACE offers peer tutoring in a variety of subject areas. ACE also provides sessions and individual classroom assistance to interested faculty.
  • ACE and Career Services collaborate to offer yearly programming for undecided students, giving them opportunities to learn about majors and careers through coursework, special events, publications, and online resources.
  • The Division of Student Affairs provides a full complement of offices that assist students with various personal and social needs to support their academic performance. These offices include: Career Services, Child Development Research Center, Counseling Center, Disability Resource Center, English Language Program, Health Promotion, Housing Operations, International Center, Intercultural Center for PEACE, LGBT Resource Center, Medical Compliance, Residence Life, Student Conduct, Student Life, Student Medical Services, Student Ombudsman, University Police, and the Women’s Center.

Academic Affairs, working with college Deans, encourages faculty to make appropriate and necessary student referrals to the College Success Skills and Early Warning programs.  For upper division students, Academic Affairs works with college Deans to develop faculty contact and mentoring programs for transfer students and majors, thereby encouraging greater student-faculty interaction.  


UNF is committed to raising the graduation rates of all students. For this reason, the university has developed Academic Roadmaps for each academic program that guide students toward completion of their academic programs and also serve to monitor student progress. When students are identified as falling off-track, advisors will contact the students and provide appropriate guidance and assistance. UNF is also restructuring its advising system to better provide both professional advising services and faculty mentoring. The most significant of these changes is that sophomore students will now be advised in the college of their chosen major, rather than centrally in the Academic Center for Excellence. This restructuring is designed to connect students with their major advisors earlier in order to facilitate stronger connections and engagement with academic programs. Beginning fall 2013, UNF implemented the Education Advisory Board's (EAB) Student Success Collaborative (SSC) application. This is a sophisticated software system that uses predictive analytics and data mining to guide students toward greater success. This system is expected to positively impact UNF's retention and graduation rates, and lead to greater student efficiency (time to degree) and greater student success. SSC's predictive modeling provides advisers and students with data that demonstrate where a student is likely to be more successful, and alternatives (if necessary) to his or her current field of study.  Together, these modifications to the student support infrastructure should enhance graduation rates for the undergraduate student population.


The colleges have developed Academic Learning Compacts (for each baccalaureate major) and Graduate Academic Learning Compacts (for each graduate program), which identify both expected learning outcomes and methods for assessing the extent to which students have achieved these outcomes.  Assessment data are used by academic departments to monitor their curriculum and, when necessary, undertake curricular changes to help students achieve expected outcomes. 


Degrees Awarded


In addition to graduation and retention rates, the Office of Institutional Research tracks the number of baccalaureate, masters, and doctoral degrees awarded as a measurement of student achievement.  Please refer to [Degrees Awarded] for the number of degrees awarded by level for the latest ten-year period, from 2004-05 to 2013-14.  This chart shows that the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded increased monotonically by about 3.85% per year, but showed a slight decrease in 2013-14. Doctoral degrees awarded also increased fairly regularly, with a “bump” in 2008-09, when the DPT and DNP programs were added. The number of master’s degrees awarded has been more erratic, with a high of 622 in 2004-05 and a low the following year (2005-06).  

At a more detailed level, [Degrees by Level & Gender] shows the number of degrees awarded by gender for the latest five-year period (2009-10 to 2013-14); it also shows the number of degrees awarded by race/ethnic group. Finally, [Degrees by Major] shows the number of degrees awarded by College and Major. 

Proficiency Performance


UNF’s primary method of assessing student proficiency is the Educational Testing Service Proficiency Profile (ETS-PP). Administered on a triennial basis, UNF tests samples of its freshmen and seniors to measure their performance in three areas: critical thinking and reading, written communication, and mathematics. In each of these categories, there are three levels of difficulty, from Level 1 (least difficult) to Level 3 (most difficult). Each student is scored as Proficient, Marginal, or Not Proficient on each item. 


The resulting scores allow us to measure (a) how well UNF performs compared to similar institutions across the country, and (b) the increment in skill levels between our freshmen and our seniors.


A summary of ETS-PP Proficiency percentages for UNF freshmen compared to National (Master’s-level) freshmen for the 2012-13 test year is charted in [ETS Freshmen].  The results show that UNF freshmen were more proficient than freshmen at Master’s-level institutions on all three dimensions. Similarly, UNF seniors were compared to National (Master’s level) seniors; the results are charted in [ETS Seniors]. Again, UNF outperformed the Master’s-level institutions on all tests, with the exception of Writing Level 3. 


A third comparison was made between UNF freshmen and UNF seniors, the assumption being that proficiency should increase from the freshmen to the senior year. The results are shown in [ETS Freshmen v. Seniors]. As anticipated, UNF seniors did, in fact, show an absolute increase in proficiency compared to the UNF freshmen, with the exception of Writing Level 3.


The increment in proficiency from the freshman to the senior year was further assessed by the Learning Gains Report provided by Educational Testing Services. This report also provides the expected proficiency scores for UNF freshmen and seniors, based on a regression algorithm using the SAT/ACT scores of these students. The Learning Gains Report for all UNF seniors is presented in [Learning Gains: All].  These results show that UNF freshmen were “Below Expected” in proficiency in Critical Thinking and Writing, while UNF seniors were “At Expected” levels on these two dimensions. The discrepancy between the absolute values of proficiency (prior paragraph) and the learning gains results is that freshmen typically have higher SAT/ACT scores than seniors as UNF's admission profile improves year to year.
The increase from the freshman to the senior scores was “Well Above Expected” for Critical Thinking, and “Above Expected” for Writing. The learning gains were slightly better for native seniors (i.e., only those seniors who started as freshmen at UNF), as shown in [Learning Gains: Native]. This outcome is to be expected if the UNF learning experience actually enhances proficiency.


State Licensing Examinations


The UNF programs with certification/licensure exams are Nurse Practitioner, Nursing, Dietetics, Athletic Training, Physical Therapy, Nurse Anesthesia, and Mental Health Counseling.

Accounting and Teaching are also subject to certification exams. Recent changes to the administration of the accounting exam make it difficult to report data as a single passing rate and also make comparisons over time ineffective.  With regard to teacher certification, Florida law requires students to pass all parts of the Florida Teacher Certification Examination before they can graduate; thus, the passage rate for teacher education program graduates is 100 percent.  Therefore, historic data on these two programs are not included in this section.


The remaining certification/licensure exam passage rates listed above and presented here apply to Brooks College of Health programs. As part of the assessment process and commitment to quality, the strategic plan of the Brooks College of Health calls for each program to identify and implement strategies to ensure that licensing/certification passing rates remain above the national average.  Chart [State Licensure] shows the state licensing exam passing rates from 2004 to 2013.

The Nurse Practitioner (Family Nurse Practice) pass rate has been at 100% for the last two years, with an average of 97.6% over the last ten years.  The program will continue to provide the excellent education its previous graduates have received.


The School of Nursing continually reviews the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) pass rate for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing prelicensure graduates. The Nursing NCLEX licensure exam passage rate, averaged over the ten years of data presented in the table, is 92.5 percent.  Following a downward pattern in 2004-2005, the school invested in a program that tests students as they complete the main clinical areas, and then again as they exit the program. Students are offered remedial work, when needed, based on the results of these tests. In addition, the school revised the adult health course to align with current practice trends. NCLEX pass rates have increased since these actions were implemented, with the last two years at 97% or better.

Dietetics examination passage rates have exhibited quite a bit of variance over the last ten years. The bachelor’s program produced an average pass rate of 80.4% for this time period, and the master’s program generated an average rate of 89.3%. With regard to the master’s program, the pass rates were 100% in 2012 and 2013.  It should also be noted that both programs reaffirmed their accreditation status with ACEND in 2014.


As for the bachelor’s program, the examination used is the Registered Dietitian (RD) examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. Eligible alumni take the exam after completing 1200 hours of supervised practice, which occurs after they graduate from the program. The benchmark is an average 5-year pass rate of 80% but the program strives for higher rates.


The 2014 pass rate was 91%, for the time period through June 30, 2014. Data is not yet available for the second half of the year. 


There are many factors that affect the RD pass rate, including uncontrolled growth of the program. With 393 current majors, departmental resources are stretched to the limit. The program has taken steps to control growth by placing “B” grade requirements on three program prerequisites and is currently researching a selective admission process. The program initiated a robust assessment of student learning in the undergraduate program. The assessment helps ensure that course objectives and accreditation competencies are met and that standardization in student learning across different sections of the same course takes place. Data collection is on-going and is reported via the UNF TracDat system and to the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).  

Even though UNF exceeds the national average on the athletic training certification exam, with an average pass rate of 97.5% for the last three years, the Athletic Training Education Program (ATEP) continues to analyze the Board of Certification (BOC) scores for curricular improvements. The main emphasis will continue to focus on meeting the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) Athletic Training Educational Competencies regarding curriculum content. The program uses multiple evaluation methods:  Graduate Exit, Alumni, and Employer Surveys; Competency and Proficiency Assessment Manuals; and individual course evaluations. Recent changes include developing additional laboratory sessions, implementing additional teaching strategies, increasing exposure in the didactic setting to a variety of allied health care professionals, increasing exposure to uncommon injuries and general medical conditions, and maintaining the involvement of clinical instructors in the didactic setting.


Pass rates by graduates of the Physical Therapy Program are commendable and exceed the state and national averages, with an average pass rate of 98.1% over the last ten years. The Brooks College of Health wants to ensure that it continues this trend. 


Nurse Anesthesia students have performed admirably, yielding a perfect (100%) pass rate for the last five years.

Finally, the Mental Health Counseling majors have tested with an average pass rate of 77.5% for the past four years -- the only years these data were available.  Before graduates may sit for the licensure exam they must complete a required 1500 hour post-masters registered internship. This internship takes approximately 2 years of full time work post-masters. For example, graduates who took the licensure exam in 2013 would have graduated from the program in 2011. In an effort to improve licensure pass rates, the following program changes were implemented in 2011:
  1. The program moved from part-time to full-time in Fall 2011. These students graduated in 2013 and will take the licensure exam in 2015.
  2. In Fall 2011, the course schedule was changed from the last class ending at 10:15 pm to the last class ending at 8:45 pm to encourage student engagement.
  3. The cohort model was implemented in Fall 2011 for the following benefits: 
    • encouraging mutual academic and emotional support;
    • providing a space of collaborative learning;
    • increasing trust to enable a safe learning environment for taking risks; and
    • advising students more holistically.
  4. The electronic portfolio (iwebfolio), implemented in 2012, challenges students to demonstrate an understanding of core counselor competencies on which the licensing exam is based. The examination consists of 10 simulated clinical mental health counseling cases that are designed to sample a broad area of competencies, not merely recall of isolated facts.
  5. Clinical course (practicum & internship) are primarily taught by core faculty who assist students in integrating counselor competencies, coursework, and practice.
  6. Faculty will use the results of the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) that students take at midpoint in the program to target content areas and competencies that need remediation prior to graduation.

Job Placement Rates


For many years, the Florida Education Training and Placement Information Program (FETPIP) has provided information on our graduates’ employment in Florida.  FETPIP’s ability to track employment is limited to those individuals employed within the state of Florida, and their data exclude those who are self-employed, those working for very small employers, and those working for the federal government (e.g., military and postal workers).  Despite these shortcomings, FETPIP’s data provide an excellent profile of the employment rates of university graduates, together with estimates of their quarterly earnings. The most recent data published by FETPIP was for the 2011-12 graduates (i.e., those who graduated from Summer 2011 to Spring 2012). The employment statistics were measured in the fourth quarter (October to December) of 2012, which allows less than one year for most graduates to find a job.
The 2011-12 FETPIP summary information for UNF baccalaureate graduates, compared to those of other SUS institutions, show that the employment rate of UNF’s baccalaureate graduates within Florida ranked first among the 11 SUS institutions, and the percentage of graduates found employed (73%) was more than 11 percentage points above the SUS average (62%). These data are summarized in [FETPIP: Bachelor’s]. The data also show that, of those UNF baccalaureate graduates who were employed in Florida, UNF was tied for second place for the percentage employed full-time (78%). [FETPIP: Master’s] demonstrates that this pattern of results aligns with masters graduates, where UNF ranked second (74%) in the SUS in the percent employed (the SUS average was 59%), and was again tied for second place for the percentage employed full-time (93%). Finally, [FETPIP: Doctoral] shows that UNF’s doctoral graduates ranked third in the SUS in the percentage employed (60%, compared to the SUS’s 37%), and tied for first place, at 100%, for the percentage who were employed full-time.These relatively lower employment rates may be attributable to the fact that positions requiring doctoral degrees are fewer in number, and as such graduates may take more than a year to find an appropriate job.

FETPIP also provides more detailed information on employment of UNF graduates by discipline and by degree level. The overall and full-time employment rates are shown in tabular form in [FETPIP: Discipline]. This table also shows the average quarterly earnings by discipline, as well as the percentage of students who were continuing their education at a Florida college or university but were not necessarily employed. UNF’s full-time employment rates are also displayed graphically in [FETPIP: Full-time], with a separate chart for each degree level. The horizontal axis shows the major (discipline), with the cohort size in parentheses; the majors are sorted in descending order by percent employed full-time.


There was only one doctoral discipline with ten or more graduates in 2011-12, and that was Physical Therapy (DPT), with a 55% full-time employment rate. Perhaps ironically, this was the lowest full-time employment rate of the three doctoral degree programs offered by UNF.


The final exhibit related to job placement is a document compiled by the Florida Board of Governor’s (BOG) Office, which deals with baccalaureate post-graduation metrics from FETPIP and the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) for 2011-12 [BOG: Job Placement]. The “continuing education” data from the NSC are an improvement over the data from FETPIP, as the latter only counts students continuing their education in Florida colleges or universities, whereas the former counts students who enroll in any higher education institution that provides data to the NSC. The BOG’s table also takes steps to ensure that the headcounts are not duplicated, as it is quite possible for a person to be employed as well as enrolled in a higher education institution during the same time period.


According to the table on Page 1 of [BOG: Job Placement], if the students who were employed full-time are added to those who continued their education at an NSC institution, and this numerator is corrected for duplicated headcounts and divided by the unduplicated total cohort size, UNF’s “Percent Enrolled and/or Employed” was 69%. This ties for second place in the SUS (not counting USF’s branch campuses), and is three points higher than the SUS average of 66%.


Finally, Page 2 of [BOG: Job Placement] shows the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles of wages of SUS baccalaureate graduates in Florida for 2011-12, one year after graduation, for each of the institutions. These data show that UNF wages were above the SUS figures for all three quartiles. Indeed, UNF’s median wages outperformed most other SUS institutions, including UF, FSU, and UCF. Understandably, UNF’s median wages fell below those of FIU and FAU, as the cost of living in south Florida is so much higher. UNF’s median wage was only $412 less than USF’s.