For the next year, Sherry Marlow Ormsby will be diving into a deep pool of data from Tennessee.
Ormsby, the executive director of the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Institutional Research (OPEIR) at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, was selected to serve on the Complete Tennessee Learning Institute—an organization that examines educational information from across the state to look for student trends in higher education access, success, retention, graduation numbers and other areas.
“This is an opportunity for leaders in education across Tennessee to get together and really try to understand the barriers to attainment and try to remove them at our local institutions,” Ormsby said.
“But it’s not just higher education. It’s also K-12 and state and local government and advocacy organizations all working together to try to solve this complicated issue.”
When choosing members for the Complete Tennessee Learning Institute, the goal is to select people from across the state with experience in educational issues, said Jamia Stokes, senior director of Postsecondary Pathways for SCORE—the acronym for the State Collaborative on Reforming Education.
“We strive to build a diverse cohort of leaders from across the state who can increase local capacity for supporting student access and success initiatives,” Stokes said.
In the 2022-2023 academic year, Stokes said the Learning Institute would focus on four areas:
- Tennessee’s higher education landscape
- Equity and access to higher education
- Supporting postsecondary student success
- Postsecondary completion and attainment
Among other broad sets of data, Ormsby said OPEIR gathers information such as students’ success in their courses; the specific programs they’re participating in; enrollment and demographic statistics; what advising services are available; and the diversity of faculty and staff that students encounter on campus.
“A lot of the data that we use is student-centric for decision-making purposes,” she said. “We’re trying to better understand where students are coming from and how they’re doing in our courses to try to understand what can make them be more successful.
“We’re really looking at this from all angles.”
The data gathered by OPEIR is given to University leaders who use it to make decisions for future policies at UTC.
“We are really more of a support for the institution so that, when they’re making decisions that will impact students, it’s going to be based on data and best practices,” Ormsby said.
OPEIR also reports data to federal and state organizations, including the U.S. Department of Education, to maintain educational accreditation for UTC. The office helps prepare information on areas such as senior exit exams and course-learning evaluations for the National Education Association and other groups.
“All those survey-type things,” Ormsby explained.
Click here to view some of the data collected by the UTC Office of Planning, Evaluation and Institutional Research.