In 1999, the Council passed a series of guidelines related to academic programs that streamlined the process of reviewing programs and recognized the need for institutional flexibility within the new postsecondary structures of the Kentucky Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997. The Council’s Guidelines for Review of Academic Program Productivity established the following thresholds to be used to identify programs for review:
- Associate programs - average of fewer than 12 degrees awarded during a five-year period.
- Baccalaureate programs - average of fewer than 12 degrees awarded during a five-year
- Master’s programs - average of fewer than seven degrees awarded during a five-year
- Doctoral programs - average of fewer than five degrees awarded during a five-year period.
CPE conducted four rounds of program productivity review:
- Council staff reviewed degree output from 1994-95 to 1998-99, and the Council approved the results in July 2001.
- Staff reviewed degree output from 1996-97 to 2000-01, and the Council approved the results in May 2003.
- Staff reviewed degree output from 1998-99 to 2002-03, and the Council approved the results in January 2005.
- At its January 30, 2006, meeting, the Council amended its Guidelines for Review of Academic Program Productivity to specify a four-year review cycle.
Under this iteration of the policy, the most recent review was conducted in 2008-09 and examined degree output from 2003-04 to 2007-08.
- First, Council staff analyzed official degree data to identify associate, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs at each institution that were below the thresholds.
- Next, staff notified institutions of those programs that were below the thresholds and asked them to apply an efficiency index to programs below the master’s degree level. If the efficiency index for a program at the comprehensive universities was 540 or above, the program was considered to be productive and removed from further review. If the efficiency index for a program at the research universities was 360 or above, the program was considered to be productive and removed from further review.
- Finally, the institutions were asked to review each remaining low-productivity program and make written recommendations with supporting rationale for continuation, alteration, or closure of the program.
The policy was revised in 2011, with an implementation date of the 2013-14 academic year. The policy revisions were made in light of best practices, better coordination among state and institutional practices, and an improved connection between academic program approval and review of existing academic programs.
After five rounds of program reviews under the current policy, some institutions were still struggling with certain elements of the review process, including job placement, and there was a lack of consistency in some areas, such as the determination of student credit hour per instructional FTE.
Conversations about further policy revisions began with campus representatives in 2017. After feedback from campuses and further conversations, it was determined that the best course of action would be to contract with a national expert or organization that could work with both the CPE and the eight public universities on a statewide program review process.