Action Plan: A plan that focuses on how programs and/or disciplines will act to improve that aspect of program/discipline based on data reviewed during the program/discipline review. The action plan includes four parts: 1) Recommendation/Suggestion 2) Rationale for the Recommendation/Suggestion, 3) Person(s) Responsible for Implementing the Action, and 4) Date of Planned Completion.

Core Learning Outcome (CLO): General education competencies (knowledge and skills) that are expected of all Virginia Community College degree students, including NOVA, for work and life. These differ from Student Learning Outcomes (see definition) in that they are college-level educational goals. (See General Education Competencies page for the list of CLOs).

Cohort: A cohort is a group of students who started a degree or certificate at the same time.

Course Sequence: The courses that are meant to be taken in a specific order, as the earlier courses are generally prerequisites for later courses. Example: CHM 111 and CHM 112.

Course Success Rate: Course success rates are defined as the percentage of course grades that are a grade of C or higher in credit-level courses and a grade of S in a developmental course.

Duplicated Headcount: Students who take courses at more than one campus are counted once for every campus attended. Example: a student who takes courses at the Alexandria, Loudon, and Woodbridge campuses is counted three times. Headcounts can also be unduplicated (see definition).

Enrollment: Enrollment is the headcount of students enrolled in credit courses; students enrolled in courses that are part of a vocational or occupational program, including those enrolled in off-campus centers; and high school students taking college courses for credit. These figures are tracked by academic year (unduplicated) and for the fall semesters.

Curriculum Map: A map that illustrates the relationship between student learning outcomes (SLOs), courses, and assessments in an educational program. Programs indicate which course(s) address each of the SLOs, the proficiency level achieved in the course (i.e., whether students were introduced to the SLO, practiced the SLO, and/or mastered the SLO in the course), and the method of assessment for each SLO.  The curriculum maps for all educational programs at NOVA can be found here.

Fall-to-Fall Retention: Fall-to-Fall retention indicates the rate at which the fall cohort of all NOVA program-placed students enrolled in the fall semester of the next academic year.

Fall-to-Spring Retention: Fall-to-Spring retention indicates the rate at which the fall cohort of all NOVA program placed students enrolled in the spring semester of the same academic year.

FTES: Full-Time Equivalent Students (FTES) include those enrolled for the regular session, annualized summer session, and academic year.

FTIC: First time in college students.

Graduation Rate: The percentage of all program-placed students who graduated within 150 percent of normal time to completion in the same program.

Job Placement Rate: The College uses employment data from the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) to track graduates who are employed in the Commonwealth of Virginia within one year of graduation.

Program Goals: Expectations program has for enrollment, student retention, completion, etc.

Program Placed: Degree or certificate program student is enrolled in at NOVA.

Program Review Cycle: The periodic and systematic review of academic programs and disciplines that NOVA uses to evaluate and continually improve student learning. At NOVA, all degree programs along with the certificates, career studies certificates and disciplines are evaluated every three years.

Program Review: Program review is a process that evaluates the status, effectiveness, and progress of academic programs and helps identify the future direction, needs, and priorities of those programs.

Race/Ethnicity: Categories used to describe an individual’s distinctive physical traits.

Retention: Continued enrollment (or degree completion) within the same institution for the fall semesters of a student's first and second year. Retention can be categorized as Fall-to-Fall or Fall-to-Spring Retention (see definitions above).

SACSCOC: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is recognized by the United States Department of Education as an institutional accreditor. Northern Virginia Community College is accredited by SACSCOC and must uphold its educational and operational standards. In order to be accredited, institutions have to demonstrate meet standards set by SACSCOC.

SCHEV/VCCS Viability and Productivity Standards: A minimum standard FTE and Graduation totals identified by SCHEV/VCCS to determine whether a program is sufficiently viable and productive to continue to operate. NOVA follows standards for colleges with 5,000 or more students (highlighted in the table below). See chart below for standards set by SCHEV/VCCS:

Degree Program

Institutional Size

Transfer (A.A., A.S.)

A.A.S. Agriculture & Natural Resources, Business, Arts & Design, Public Service Technologies

A.A.S. Engineering, Mechanical, and Industrial Technologies

A.A.S. Health Technologies










Less than 1,800 17 12 13 8 9 6 7 5
1,800 – 4,999 22 15 16 11 12 8 9 6
5,000 or greater 24 17 18 12 13 9 10 7

SCHEV: The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) is the state-level regulatory body of institutions of higher education and is responsible for determining educational goals/policies for the state of Virginia. Northern Virginia Community College is approved to operate as an institution of higher education in the State of Virginia by SCHEV.

Student Learning Outcome (SLO): Observable and measurable knowledge, skills, and attitudes/values that students should achieve by the end of an educational program at NOVA. SLOs are educational outcomes at the program/discipline level.

Transfer-Out Rate: The percentage of all program-placed students who transfer out of NOVA to two-year and four-year institutions within 150 percent of normal time to program completion.

Unduplicated Headcount: Students are counted only once, regardless of the number of campuses they attended. Example: a student that attends the Alexandria, Woodbridge, and Loudon campuses is only counted once. Headcounts can also be duplicated (see definition).

VCCS: Virginia Community College System is made up of 23 community colleges, including Northern Virginia Community College.