Apr 7, 2015

NWC graduation and persistence rates increasing

Persistence and graduation rates at Northwest College both increased significantly for the latest years on record, recent reports show.

Those are two of the measures that the Wyoming Community College Commission is tracking in an annual report, and they eventually will be factors in calculating funding for each community college district.

NWC institutional researcher Lisa Smith told the NWC Board of Trustees at its meeting last month that Northwest College’s 61 percent persistence rate for the 2013-14 school year was the best of all seven community college districts in Wyoming, according to a commission report.

The persistent rate measures the percentage of first-time, degree-seeking students who enrolled in Northwest College in the fall term and returned the following fall for at least one credit, she said.  The statewide average was 56.1 percent.

A year earlier, Northwest College’s persistence rate stood at 53.6 percent, and the statewide average was 55.2 percent.

In addition, Northwest’s graduation rate jumped by 11 percentage points. The graduation rate measures the percentage of first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students who completed their degrees within three years from the time they started. For the 2010 cohort (students who started at Northwest in 2010 and completed by 2013), the graduation rate was 26 percent, or fifth out of the state’s seven college districts.

But for the 2011 cohort (students who started in 2011 and graduated in 2014) the graduation rate jumped to 37 percent.

However, Smith said the statewide comparison for the 2011 cohort won’t be available until February; the Community College Commission is using the 2010 cohort for comparison this year, placing NWC fifth and below the state average of 29.9 percent.

The good news here, Smith said, is that, for the previous four cohorts, from 2006-09, Northwest College’s graduation rate was above the state average.

During a discussion with Cody News Company last week, Smith said the low graduation rate for the 2010 cohort might have been affected by the improving local economy, which prompted some students to discontinue college to take employment offers, though there is no way to determine that for sure, s
he said.

Authorities investigate apparent animal poisonings

Several animals — including three dogs — have died, apparently after consuming poison near the Timber Creek Trailhead southwest of Meeteetse.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department and other law enforcement agencies are investigating the deaths, Cody Region Wildlife Supervisor Alan Osterland said Monday.

The suspicious deaths were reported to law enforcement in the latter part of last week, he said. Two of the dogs belonged to Powell families.

Other dead animals, including a raccoon, a skunk and a coyote, also were found in the area, the Game and Fish said in a news release.

“Anyone recreating in the Timber Creek area is urged to use caution and be aware of the potential risk for both humans and pets,” Scott Werbelow, game warden coordinator for the Cody Region, said in a statement. “If dead animals are detected, the public is advised to not handle the carcass and notify the Sheriff’s office or call the STOP POACHING hotline.”

The Bureau of Land Management announced Wednesday that it's offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or people involved in the suspected poisonings.

The Game and Fish is encouraging anyone who may have information about the incident to call the STOP POACHING hotline at 1-877-WGFD-TIP (1-877-943-3847) or the Park County Sheriff’s office at 307-527-8700.

Authorities have not yet confirmed the cause of the animals’ deaths, but they appear to have been poisonings, Osterland said.

“It appears that something’s going on, so we’re just trying to put our finger on it right now,” Osterland said, adding that, “The investigation’s in the preliminary stages right now, and more information will follow.”

State and federal law generally prohibits poisoning animals, and Osterland said such reports are pretty rare.

“We don’t hear of this very often, thank goodness,” he said. “It (poisoning) is so non-discriminatory, obviously. I don’t know why — if it is poisoning-related — why anybody would do it, but it just kills everything.”

The BLM, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Game and Fish and the Park County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the incident, which appears to have occurred during the week of March 29 to April 4.

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