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St. Louis TSA Associates Program Scores Above National Average on Key Success Measures
The St. Louis TSA Associates Program recently had two very good reasons to celebrate. The first reason being the inaugural group of first Transportation Security Officers completing the program, earning their Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Certificate of Achievement and nine college credit hours. The second being a metrics report from TSA headquarters showing that the locally administered program had achieved scores above regional and national averages on key success measures.
“St. Louis Community College was uniquely positioned to provide this program, and we are pleased that 16 of our officers have earned the Certificate of Achievement,” said Bill Switzer, St. Louis TSA Federal Security Director. “We are also very pleased that our local program’s completion, retention and attendance rates were higher than the regional and national averages. Homeland security is one of the fastest growing majors today, and TSA is positioning its employees to excel among their peers in the field.”
The TSA has made a significant investment of time and money in the TSA Associates Program. Currently, the success in achieving the goals of the program is measured on three major factors: completion, retention, and success. A recent metrics report released by the TSA Office of Leadership Training and Career Program included the following metrics for the St. Louis program:
- St. Louis’ cumulative course completion rate is 94 percent, compared to 83 percent in region three and 86 percent nationally.
- St. Louis TSOs also had a retention rate of 88 percent while the national retention rate was 81 percent.
- St. Louis also achieved a 93 percent average attendance while the national attendance rate was 87 percent.
- For the three required courses in the program, the St. Louis program has achieved the following percentages of students passing the courses with a grade of C or better: 88% of participants passed Introduction to Homeland Security (first course); 100% passed Intelligence Analysis (second course) and 95% passed Transportation and Border Security (third course).
Background on National Program
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is partnering with community colleges to provide the Transportation Security Officer (TSO) workforce nationwide the opportunity to work toward a TSA Certificate of Achievement in Homeland Security and/or Associates Degree.
The TSA launched the pilot program in 2008 to determine the best approach to educating the TSOs while causing minimal interruption to their work schedule. The initial proof of concept pilot was performed at three locations: Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (BWI) partnering with Anne Arundel Community College (AACC), San Antonio International Airport (SAT) partnering with San Antonio College (SAC), and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) partnering with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). Next, the pilot expanded by adding five airport/IHE partnerships in to implement the lessons learned from the pilot on a broader scale. These nine airports, spokes and IHE partner locations provided the body of knowledge for development of the TSA Associates Program.
In the fall of 2010 an additional 29 airports joined the Associates Program including St. Louis International Airport (STL) along with their college partner, St. Louis Community College. As of spring 2012 there are 80 airports with over 60 partner colleges participating in the program. There are currently over 2,500 students enrolled nationally.
About the St. Louis Program
Since beginning in the fall of 2010, 44 officers have participated in the St. Louis TSA Associates Program. 16 recently completed the program earning their certificate and another 20 of these 44 are scheduled to complete the program in fall 2012. The college offers the three required credit courses in a sequence on a semester basis.
The St. Louis program marked their first group of 16 TSO officers completing the three required courses at the end of the fall 2011 semester. The three required credit courses in the TSA Associates Program are Introduction to Homeland Security, Intelligence Analysis and Security Technology and Transportation and Border Security. After completing these three courses with a grade of “C” or better the TSO officers earn their TSA Certificate of Achievement. The 16 officers also earned nine credit hours from St. Louis Community College.
February 15, 2012 Certificate of Achievement Ceremony
16 TSO officers were honored at a special ceremony on February 15, 2012 at Lambert St. Louis International Airport and received their TSA Certificate of Achievement. The ceremony was attended by local, regional and national TSA program representatives, family members, co-workers and faculty and staff of St. Louis Community College.
Speakers at the event included: Jeff Redmann, TSA Deputy Director Workforce Engagement and Development who delivered the keynote, Joe Taney, TSA Regional Director, Region 3, Bill Switzer, St. Louis Federal Security Director; Dick Nelms, St. Louis TSA Administrative Officer, Marcia Pfeiffer, President of Florissant Valley campus, St. Louis Community College who delivered the college’s remarks and Peggy Rodgers, TSA Supervisory Coordination Center, who delivered the student participation remarks.
Presentation of certificates to the TSO students was conducted by Jeff Redmann, Joe Taney and Bill Switzer of TSA and Donna Dare, Vice Chancellor of Education, St. Louis Community College. As part of the program, TSA also gave out additional appreciation certificates. Donna Dare and Marcia Pfeiffer accepted a certificate of appreciation on behalf of St. Louis Community College. Receiving recognition and an individual certificate of appreciation from TSA headquarters were: Dick Nelms, St. Louis TSA; Ruby Curry, Dean, Florissant Valley campus, STLCC and Shayna Howell, Client Development Manager, Workforce Solutions Group, St. Louis Community College.
Kalen Reichert, a lead transportation security officer at Lambert, thinks the program will enhance her career opportunities. “I’ve learned more about how my role as a lead TSO interconnects with the Department of Homeland Security,” she said. “There are many different processes and departments within Homeland Security, and I see this as a chance to get more relevant education for my career.”
“St. Louis Community College is the leader in providing a highly-skilled workforce for the region, and this partnership also highlights the growing role that community colleges must play in preparing students for success in the 21st-century knowledge economy and society,” said Marcia Pfeiffer, STLCC-Florissant Valley president. “In the 10 years since September 11th, we’ve seen the evolution of the homeland security field. Colleges across the country are expanding public administration programs and disaster relief training to produce graduates ready to respond to major disasters. These officers receiving their completion certificates today are the fruition of our first steps. They are now prepared to further their careers in government, private and public security and criminal justice, or use this program as a springboard to other courses, certificates and quite possibly, a bachelor’s degree or beyond.”