7/31/14: Accelerate Program Achieves Significant Improvement in College Graduation Rates

Accelerate Program Achieves Significant Improvement in College Graduation Rates
July 31, 2014

Española, NM, July 31, 2014 – The first three years of the Accelerate Technical Training and Job Placement program show significant increases in persistence and graduation rates. In a July 15th filing, the Regional Development Corporation (RDC) of Española reported that evaluation metrics proved northern New Mexico college students participating in the Accelerate program are achieving greater success in comparison with the general student population.

The program announced that 124 of its 380 participating students to date had earned at least one certificate or two-year technical degree. Eighty-seven students are continuing their education by transferring to four-year degree programs. With an average student age of 29, Accelerate focuses on transitional workers with re-training needs and non-traditional students enrolled in certificate and two-year technical degree programs.

National rankings place New Mexico last in the percentage increase of college graduates between 1990 and 2010 (1). The average graduation rate of Accelerate program participants increased to 39% versus the average reported rate of the participating school’s general population of 28% (2).

Persistence, an indicator of the desire and action of a student to stay within the system of higher education, is measured by calculating the rate of full-time, first-time, degree-seeking students enrolled in their initial fall semester who are retained through the following spring semester. The average persistence rate (fall to spring) of Accelerate program participants was 86% versus the average reported rate of the general population among the six participating institutions of higher education of 75% (3).

According to Dr. Cedric Page, Accelerate Advisory Committee member and Professor of Geography at UNM-Los Alamos, “These metrics clearly indicate that the Accelerate program is succeeding in its goals to increase persistence and graduation rates in northern New Mexico. At UNM-LA, we are committed to institutionalizing components of the program and we believe the success of the Accelerate model to date indicates it should be incorporated at a statewide level.”

By participating in the Accelerate program, northern New Mexico’s colleges are better positioned for proposed changes in the state’s new performance-based funding formula that will reward them for achieving higher persistence rates and increasing numbers of certificates and degrees awarded – especially to at-risk students and to those in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health (STEMH) fields.

Accelerate, a program of the RDC in collaboration with Santa Fe Community College, Luna Community College, New Mexico Highlands University, Northern New Mexico College, the University of New Mexico-Taos, and the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos, is funded by a five-year grant from the Department of Energy/Office of Environmental Management, the RDC, participating colleges and regional employers.


1 ProximityOne

2  Comparison of students in 2011 and 2012 Accelerate cohort verses the average of the overall student population as reported by UNM-Taos, UNM-LA, Luna Community College, and Santa Fe Community College in the 2013 Annual NM Independent Community Colleges (NMICC) and NM Association of Community Colleges (NMAC) reports.

Compiled from the 2013 Performance Effectiveness Report/Council of University Presidents (NM), the2013 Annual NMICC and NMACC reports, and the NMHU website at Accelerate program persistence rates include transfer, retraining, and part-time students and were calculated based on the fall semester of a student’s initial enrollment in the Accelerate program and re-enrollment in college in the spring semester.


For specific details about Accelerate, contact Carla Rachkowski, Accelerate Program Manager, at, or go to