4.1 Student Achievement

When evaluating success with respect to student achievement in relation to the institution’s mission, the institution includes, as appropriate, consideration of course completion, state licensing examinations, and job placement rates.

Judgment of Compliance

PVAMU SACS Accreditation - Judgement Compliance

Narrative of Compliance

Prairie View A&M University evaluates student achievement in accordance with its mission of "serving a diverse ethnic and socioeconomic population" and "preparing undergraduates in a range of careers including but not limited to engineering, computer science, natural sciences, architecture, business, technology, criminal justice, the humanities, education, agricultural sciences, nursing, mathematics, and the social sciences. It is committed to advanced education through the master's degree in education, engineering, natural sciences, nursing, selected social sciences, agriculture, business, and human sciences. It is committed to expanding its advanced educational offerings to include multiple doctoral programs." In particular, Prairie View A&M seeks to bring its "specialized programs and initiatives in nursing, juvenile justice, architecture, education, and social work" to the area [1]. For these reasons, the University pays careful attention to a variety of course completion rates, success on state licensing exams, and internship and job placement rates, particularly in the five programs singled out above.

Course Completion
Prairie View A&M University considers course completion to include not only how well students fare semester to semester but how many are retained from year to year, especially students who require remediation or who are financially disadvantaged, and how many complete their whole course of study and graduate.

The percentage of students who stay in their courses the entire semester has held steady between 94 and 96% between 2000 and 2008. While the name of the measure changed from "percentage of course completers" to "percent of semester credit hours completed," the data and results remain the same [2]:

Percent of Course Completers / Semester Credit Hours Completed,
Texas Legislative Budget Board Key Performance Measures





















Prairie View A&M University also measures success by retention rates. The persistence rate for all first-time freshmen returning for their sophomore year rose 4.8% between 2002 and 2008 [2]. According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the retention rate for economically disadvantaged, first-time, full-time undergraduates from 2007 to Fall 2008 was 61.9%, the second highest rate out of 31 state institutions and well above the state average of 50.4%. To be counted in this measure, students had to have an expected family contribution of zero for federal financial aid purposes and earn at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA [3].

Because a high percentage of incoming students require some degree of remediation, the University pays close attention to the success of this population. Between 2002 and 2008, the persistence rate for undergraduate students who required remediation but completed all developmental coursework within two semesters rose from 64.0% to a high of 89.5% in 2007 [2]. Additionally, the college-level course completion rates for students requiring remediation versus those who took no developmental education courses have been favorable. For the freshmen who entered in 2004, 68% needed remediation in one or more subject areas (reading, writing, and math). After four years, 74.6% of those who had taken developmental math courses and went on to a college-level math course passed with a "C" or better, compared to 79.9% of students who needed no remediation. In reading, remediated students did better than their counterparts, with an 84.1% pass rate versus 81.4%, and in writing, 79% of freshmen who came out of developmental education and attempted a college-level writing class passed, compared to 80.8% of those who required no remediation [4]. Successful completion of the developmental education requirements is key for students to graduate in a timely manner.

More students are graduating from Prairie View A&M but still at a rate below the state average. The total number of degrees awarded increased 44.8% between 2000 and 2008 [5]. Students who started in 1993 had a six-year graduation rate of 32.0%, while 41.1% of the cohort that entered in 2001 graduated in six years [5]. Many students take more than six years to graduate, due to financial difficulties, change of major, or time in remediation. For example, 33% of the entering freshman class of 1996 graduated from Prairie View in 6 years (compared to 45% for the whole state of Texas), while the ten-year graduation rate was 38% (compared to 51% throughout Texas) [6] [7].

The number of master degrees awarded increased 10.9% between 2000 and 2008, with a 50% increase in state-designated critical fields of computer science, engineering, math, and physical science. The graduation rate for the Fall 2003 cohort of master degree candidates was 63.5% [5].

Licensure Exams
Prairie View A&M reports the number of graduates who pass state licensure exams in education, engineering, and nursing to the Texas Legislative Budget Board as part of the required performance measures. The teacher certification rate is calculated based on the total number of graduates who pass all parts of the ExCET / TExES exams before or within one year of graduation. Applicants for the Professional Engineer license must pass three exams—the National Council of Examiners for Engineering & Surveying (NCEES) Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination, the NCEES Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) examination, and the Texas Ethics of Engineering examination—within one year of completing their degrees. Students in nursing must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) within one year of graduation to count towards the performance measures. The Legislative Budget Board pass rates for 2000 through 2008 are presented below [2]:












Teacher certification rate










Engineering state licensure exam pass rate










Nursing state licensure exam pass rate










When pass rates for the ExCET teacher certification exams are calculated differently, according to how many students pass in a given year versus how many take the test, with no consideration of time out from graduation, numbers are much higher. Per the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which took its data from the State Board of Educator Certification (SBEC), overall pass rates were 76.5% in FY 2005, 85.9% in FY 2006, and 88.0% in FY 2007 [5]. This suggests that while Prairie View students are not passing the ExCET a year after graduation, they are successful eventually. To help improve this situation and get graduates certified more quickly, the Educator Preparation, Counseling and Diagnostics (Testing) Laboratory was established in 2002, as described in the narratives Core Requirement 2.10 and Comprehensive Standard 3.4.9.

Pass rates on the engineering licensure exams are low; in some years where the rate is zero, no students attempted the tests. For comparison purposes, 61.8% of examinees passed the April 2008 administration of the FE examination [8] and 59% passed the exam when it was given in October [9]. During the same time period, 55% of Houston examinees passed the PE test [10]. Additionally, the Legislative Budget Board measure does not disaggregate or credit those students who passed just one or two of the three exams.

The exemplary licensing exam pass rate for Prairie View's nursing students is one of the greatest attractions of the program. After the 2002 implementation of several nursing lab facilities for clinical students—the Human Patient Simulation (HPS) Lab, Intensive Care Lab, Developing Family Lab, and Child Health Lab, described in the narrative for Comprehensive Standard 3.4.9—the rates moved from the low 90s to the high 90s.

Job Placement
To assess success in achieving its mission of "preparing undergraduates in a range of careers," Prairie View A&M University tracks job placement and graduate school enrollment rates. The institution also looks at the employment of students in its advanced education programs.

According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, between 2005 and 2007, just over 80% of baccalaureate graduates who have stayed in Texas have been employed, in graduate school, or both [11]:





Employed in 4th quarter in which program year ends




In graduate or professional school in Texas in fall of the next FY




Employed in Texas and enrolled in a graduate or professional school in Texas








These figures do not account for the number of students who pursue employment or advanced degrees in other locations.

Colleges and departments also track their baccalaureate, master, and Ph.D. graduates for success in the job market, as shown by the examples below:

  • The School of Architecture requires students majoring in architecture and construction science to complete summer internships, and these often lead to jobs. For example, in the summer of 2007, of the eight seniors who were working with companies, seven received offers for full-time employment upon graduation (88%) [12]. Notably, three students were in the construction science program, which started in Fall 2002 and already is showing signs of success.
  • Between May 2003 and 2005, between 40% and 55% of graduates in the College of Business were either employed or planning to attend graduate school [13] and had completed internships and secured jobs with companies like Bank of America, Boeing, NASA, the FDIC, the Internal Revenue Service, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and State Farm [14].
  • Students in the Army and Navy ROTC programs go straight into commissions upon graduation; the quality of the training that ensigns and cadets received at Prairie View A&M can be seen in the number of promotions achieved. Three NROTC ensigns from the class of 2000 have been promoted to Lieutenant Commander, while two have been promoted to Captain in the Marine Corps, for example. Of the Army ROTC cadets commissioned in 2005, four were promoted to Captain in 2008, and one was selected for Special Operations. Two Navy ROTC students who graduated as ensigns in 2004 were promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in September 2008, and a NROTC graduate from 2005 became a Captain in the Marine Corps in August 2009 [15].

Success in military careers also can be measured by commendations bestowed for service. Officers commissioned since 2000 have received the Army Bronze Star (fourth-highest combat award, for bravery or merit), the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for Heroism (second-highest non-combatant medal, awarded for heroism involving risk of life), and the Navy Commendation Medal and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with three gold stars [16].

  • The first graduate of the Master of Arts in English program, in December 2008, secured an adjunct teaching position in the Lone Star College system for Spring 2009.
  • The College of Juvenile Justice and Psychology has been extremely successful in placing its Juvenile Justice Ph.D. graduates in teaching positions, especially considering that as of May 2006, just three students had completed the program. Graduates have secured assistant professorships at institutions including Wiley College, University of Texas at Arlington, the University of Louisiana at Monroe, the University of Houston-Downtown, the University of Houston at Victoria, the University of North Texas, Texas Southern University, Fayetteville State University (North Carolina), and Clark Atlanta University (Georgia) [17]. Curriculum vitae for one recent graduate, the first Latino to receive a degree in Juvenile Justice, demonstrates how the College is producing active scholars as well [18].
  • The first graduate of the doctoral program in Electrical Engineering (August 2007) started employment with Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. in California two months after finishing his degree. The two program graduates in 2008 now work at Fort Valley State College in Georgia as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science and at Jacobs Engineering in Houston as an electrical engineer [19].
  • The first Ph.D. was conferred in Educational Leadership and Counseling in 2006, and since then, graduates have found employment as assistant professors at the Hsiuping Institute of Technology in Taiwan and Sam Houston State University and as superintendents, program directors, and principals in Texas school districts [20].

    Finally, Prairie View A&M University maintains its own records and reports about job placement, starting salaries, and plans for further education after graduation. Career Services administers a 17-question survey to students who participate in the three commencement rehearsals for the three graduation ceremonies each academic year (December, May, and August). In 2003-2004, between 14% and 27% of undergraduate student respondents had pending jobs, primarily in the Houston area or other parts of Texas, while 83% of Master degree candidates said they had employment. 36% of Bachelor degree recipients said their post-graduation plans included graduate school, and 43% said they had not decided about further education [21]. In the 2007-2008 survey, which was given only to undergraduates, data were analyzed within the major colleges and schools at the University. In agriculture, for examples, students reported jobs with the USDA in three different states, while those in the College of Engineering found employment with Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Exxon Mobil, and Halliburton, among other companies, and nursing graduates listed eight different hospitals as their future employers [22].

Supporting Documentation and Links

Federal Requirements 4.1

© 2009 Prairie View A&M University