1. Individual student progress data, including (a) appropriate evaluations of knowledge and skills required for occupations(s) studied and (b) notations of completions(s) of and/or withdrawal from programs, are maintained and made part of his/her record (3-1).

  2. The institution submits accurate and verifiable program completion data each year to the Commission for comparison with required benchmarks (3-2).

  3. All programs meet the required benchmark for completion OR the institution has taken any actions required by the Commission due to program completion rates failing to meet the required benchmark (3-2).

  4. The institution submits accurate and verifiable program placement data each year to the Commission for comparison with required benchmarks (3-2).

  5. All programs meet the required benchmark for placement OR the institution has taken any actions required by the Commission due to the program placement rates failing to meet the required benchmark (3-2).

  6. The institution submits accurate and verifiable licensure exam pass rate data each year to the Commission for comparison with required benchmarks (3-2).

  7. All applicable programs meet the required benchmark for licensure exam pass rates OR the institution has taken any actions required by the Commission due to licensure exam pass rates failing to meet the required benchmark (3-2).

  8. The institution has a written plan to ensure that follow-up is systematic and continuous, and includes the following elements (3-3):
    a. Identification of responsibility for coordination of all follow-up activities;
    b. Collection of information from completers and employers of completers;
    c. Information collected from completers and employers of completers focused on program effectiveness for various modes of delivery and relevance to job requirements;
    d. Placement and follow-up information used to evaluate and improve the quality of program outcomes; and,
    e. Placement and follow-up information made available at least on an annual basis to all instructional personal and administrative staff.

 

Introduction

The WWRC Vocational Training Department has dedicated a position to serve as a full-time Accreditation and Licensure Specialist since 2009.  This position is accountable for systematic and continuous follow-up of training program graduates, in consultation with the WWRC Lead Program Evaluation Analyst for data collection, analysis, and reporting.   A written follow-up plan is maintained by this position and reviewed annually. 

 

Individual student progress data and official records are electronically documented and maintained through the on-campus WWRC Records Management Services Department.

 

WWRC reports its program completion, placement, and licensure (CPL) rate data annually to the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education, with Interim Reports and Improvement Plans submitted if rates are below negotiated benchmarks. 

 

WWRC historically met completion and licensure benchmarks since the last Accreditation Site Visit with the exception of a couple completion rate anomalies in 2013 and 2016, both of which were quickly remediated.  However, consistent compliance with WWRC's negotiated placement rate benchmark has been an issue across various training programs over the past six (6) years, causing COE to place WWRC in a continuous Heightened Monitoring Status since 2014.  This status was re-classified as an unrestricted Warning Status in May, 2016, per changes documented in the COE Accreditation Handbook.   This issue is discussed later in this Self-Study narrative, with more details provided by training program within applicable Standard 2 Individual Program Supplements.

 

Analysis

All official student records are maintained in secure electronic databases, with access centrally managed through the Records Management Services Department on WWRC's campus in Fishersville, Virginia.  Student information/data is managed through utilization of a computer case management software system named AWARE.  DocFinity, a document imaging/management system, controls the saving, searching, retrieval, and routing of individual student documents.  Together, these two computer software systems permit individual student progress data, including (a) appropriate evaluations of knowledge and skills required for occupation(s) studied and (b) notations of completion(s) of and/or withdrawal from training programs to be maintained and made a part of each student's record. 

 

A student's record typically contains his/her counselor's case notes, the student's vocational evaluation, reports from the student's instructor regarding the student's progress in learning the required occupational knowledge and skills, and reports regarding the student's completion, withdrawal, or transfer from a particular training program.  Transcripts are available upon request by contacting the WWRC Records Management Services Department.

 

In 2005, WWRC requested and was granted a negotiated placement rate of 45% based on the unique characteristics of the student population served which presents a unique set of challenges to annual attainment of the COE placement standard.  At that same time a negotiated completion rate of 55.89% and a negotiated licensure exam pass rate of 87.37% were granted to WWRC.   

  • WWRC submits accurate and verifiable completion data annually to the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education.  Historically, WWRC has not had any difficulty meeting or exceeding the required negotiated completion benchmarks.  However, in 2013, WWRC's Auto Mechanics Training Program fell below the required benchmark and, in 2016, WWRC's Personal Care Aide (PCA) Training Program fell below the required benchmark.  Both training programs were quickly remediated and completion rate has no longer been an issue for them or any other WWRC vocational training program since.
  • WWRC submits accurate and verifiable placement data annually to the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education.  Consistent compliance with WWRC's negotiated placement rate benchmark has been an issue across various training programs over the past six (6) years and has placed WWRC in a continuous Heightened Monitoring Status since 2014.  This status was re-classified as an unrestricted Warning Status in May, 2016, per changes documented in the COE Accreditation Handbook.   Three training programs that were not able to meet the negotiated placement rate, despite corrective action taken, were closed in 2016.   Other actions taken to address lower than expected placement rates will be discussed later in this Self-Study narrative.
  • WWRC submits accurate and verifiable licensure exam pass rate data each year to the Commission for comparison with required benchmarks.  WWRC's Nurse Aide training program is the only training program that requires a licensure exam, per Virginia Board of Nursing requirements.  Historically, WWRC has not had any difficulty exceeding the required licensure benchmark.

 

WWRC has a written plan to ensure that follow-up is systematic and continuous.  The Vocational Training Department employs a full-time Accreditation and Licensure Specialist whose responsibility is to carry out this plan.  This person tracks and monitors all program completers to record their employment status one year following their graduation.  The Accreditation and Licensure Specialist receives quarterly AWARE data extract information from the Lead Program Evaluation Analyst; this information is entered to AWARE by the student's Department for Aging and Rehabilitation Services (DARS) Rehabilitation Counselor.  If, for some reason, the information is not complete, the Accreditation and Licensure Specialist will contact the DRS Counselor or the student to obtain necessary employment information. 

 

WWRC's Accreditation and Licensure Specialist does not follow-up directly with the graduates' employers.  Employer follow-up during a graduate's first ninety (90) days of employment is the responsibility of the graduate's DRS Counselor and/or assigned DRS Placement Counselor.  Their findings are recorded as case notes in AWARE and are available to users of AWARE which includes WWRC, as a division of the Virginia DARS Agency. 

 

Completion and outcome data is used to compile the final COE-required CPL form/report.  This information is compared with other internal/external agency reports relative to Vocational Training outcomes.  Aggregate information is shared with Vocational Training Department staff and Occupational Advisory Committees at least twice annually.  The reports can be used for several purposes, including improving program effectiveness for various modes of instructional delivery, to study curricula relevance to job requirement, and to improve the quality of program outcomes.

 

Challenges and Proposed Solutions

 

Since DARS is the primary referral source of applicants to WWRC's vocational training programs, continuous implementation of Agency-imposed Order of Selection requirements since 2011 has been a major contributing factor influencing DARS/DRS referrals, census, utilization, and population profiles.  The impact of Order of Selection, combined with depressed workplace literacy skills (on average below the 5th grade level) that impacts general problem-solving skills and other cognitive abilities, have, in turn, exacerbated challenges leading to WWRC's Heightened Monitoring/Warning status with COE.   

 

The largest growing disability populations are autism and autisms spectrum disorders.  These trending population profiles require hands-on, experiential programming and 'wrap-around supports' to facilitate the likelihood of successful program retention, graduation, and placement. In all likelihood, DARS will remain in an Order of Selection status for the foreseeable future, so WWRC will need to continuously align its resources, staffing patterns, and service/program offerings to address complex needs of individuals with the most significant disabilities who experience multiple barriers to employment.

 

Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center's Vocational Training Programs prepare VR consumers for jobs in their home communities, an outcome that is directly correlated with attainment of COE CPL requirements, as well as compliance with Agency rehabilitation rate performance metrics, emerging Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) common performance measures, and Governor of Virginia workforce initiatives.  Facilitating effective and efficient linkages between WWRC's training programs and statewide workforce demands, while simultaneously balancing complex and evolving disability-related needs of the VR population served through the Agency and WWRC, is an essential formula for successful attainment of the Center's employment focused mission, regardless of applied regulatory or accreditation body requirements.  Since 2012 under Blueprint initiatives, WWRC has critically reviewed its structure, scope, and targeted business processes to strengthen that formula in support of its mission.  This has resulted in significant changes that are discussed in more detail in the Standard 4:  Strategic Planning.

 

It is WWRC's practice to continuously and proactively anticipate and respond to ever-changing factors that impact successful employment of its student population, regardless of how this is measured or which regulatory/accreditation body applies.  Internal organizational scrutiny has been tightened over recent years, necessitated, in part, by WWRC's Heightened Monitoring status with COE and required actions.  In previous years, the economy was a major contributing factor, but as reported in the Institutional and Community Characteristics section of this Self-Study, Virginia's economy has stabilized and improved in recent years.  Over the past year, WWRC has leveraged resources of the DARS (DRS/WWRC) Business Development Team as a new structure for its Institutional Advisory Committee, to more closely align with statewide economic and labor market demands as a strategy to update existing training program curricula as well as develop new training programs consistent with growth industries and identified industry skill gaps across the Commonwealth.  WWRC has also partnered more closely with DRS Placement and Rehabilitation Counselors to gain knowledge of:  potential access to internship opportunities in a consumer's home community; shared job leads; and, the availability of local community resources to support and promote employment retention.  These actions are anticipated to improve WWRC's placement rate over time. 

 

Additional strategies implemented, or soon to be implemented, to improve placement rates are listed below:

  • With authorization of the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) under which the federal VR Program is now administered, there is increased attention given to career pathways which represents a fundamental difference from the traditional focus for attainment of employment in an entry level position for ninety (90) days followed by case closure.  DARS Agency VR governance is evolving to reflect this fundamental difference and this will then need to be reflected in WWRC's Vocational Training mission statement.  WWRC has already taken initial steps to align its workforce training programs with the federal career pathways definition and structure and will introduce this to its Institutional and Occupational Advisory Committees during 2017.    We anticipate this to increase the number of graduates who are placed in the field for which trained over time, which will, in turn, improve WWRC's placement rate applying the COE formula. 
  • Over the past two years, WWRC has strengthened its emphasis on student attainment of industry credentials and certifications as part of a strategy to increase the employability of its graduates and as endorsed by Occupational Advisory Committees.   Workforce credentials are now fully embedded in 5 of its training programs, with more generic workplace certifications available across all training programs.  With authorization of WIOA, DRS Counselors, as the primary referral source for WWRC vocational training programs, will have an increased 'felt need' to counsel/guide students toward attainment of industry credentials as they will have shared accountability for this common performance measure.   This is anticipated to have a positive impact on placement rates over time. 
  • AGM 4.2.5 articulates how Community Support Services have been implemented to facilitate vocational success for those served with multiple and complex disabilities.   The creation of a Behavior Specialist Team within WWRC's Behavioral Health Department has a proven track record as one successful strategy that has already facilitated improved retention rates and is anticipated to result in improved placement rates as graduates return to their home communities.    The Behavior Coordinator who leads the Behavior Specialist Team continuously monitors environmental stability indicators, the nature and type of behavioral issues, and other data to identify trends/patterns and to determine the level and scope of 'wrap-around supports' needed for WWRC students inside and outside of class hours.  The most current Menu of Behavioral Services at any given time is maintained in the WWRC Administrative Governance Manual.
  • The WWRC Pipeline Report is a tool begun in 2015 to support DRS Rehabilitation and Placement Counselors, as well as Business Development Managers in locating jobs for graduating clients. The Pipeline Report, distributed quarterly, two weeks before each Vocational Training Graduation, is a chart containing consumer name, DRS Rehabilitation Counselor name, field office location, consumer skills and qualifications, credentials earned and what area and specific job the consumer may be looking for.  WWRC believes this to be a strategy to enhance communication and collaboration and facilitate a smoother transition between WWRC, the home community, and access to viable job markets.

 

Summary

The Accreditation Self-Study Committee finds WWRC in compliance with Standard 3 requirements to maintain individual student progress data as part of the official record and to submit accurate and verifiable program completion, placement, and licensure data to COE annually for comparison with negotiated benchmarks.  WWRC has always been responsive and has taken timely actions required by the Commission due to program completion, placement, and licensure data failing to meet negotiated benchmarks. 

 

WWRC has, and will continue to take strategic and intentional actions to address placement rates that do not meet the required benchmarks and have led to WWRC's current Warning Status under COE.    

 

WWRC has a Written Plan for Follow-Up that fully meets COE Standard 3 criteria.

 

Evidence of compliance with COE Standard 3 will be verified through staff interviews, student interactions, team member observations and review of Self-Study materials, and file/document/record audits, as indicated.  

 

Additional Self-Study Exhibits

The following supporting documentation and key contacts for Standard 3 are provided to supplement hyperlinks integrated within this narrative.

 

  • Key Contacts

Name/Title

Campus Location

Email

Phone Number

James Hall, CWDD Director

R.N. Anderson Training Building

James.Hall@wwrc.virginia.gov

(540) 332-7222

Kerry Krause, Accreditation & Licensure Specialist

R.N. Anderson Training Building

Kerry.Krause@wwrc.virginia.gov

(540) 332-7227

Dr. Kurt Sprenger. Lead PE Analyst

Mary Switzer Building

Kurt. Sprenger@wwrc.virginia.gov

(540) 332-7135

Kristen Swink, Records Management Services Director

Birsall-Hoover Medical/Administration Building

Kristen.Swink@wwrc.virginia.gov

(540) 332-7154