Governor orders schools to draft graduation plans

ATLANTA --- Gov. Nathan Deal announced Thursday morning that he has ordered every college, university and technical school to draft plans for improving graduation and has also called for a review of funding formulas to reward institutions with higher completion rates.

Schools with subpar rates could see their funds suffer.

"We hope that we will do the rewarding part rather than the punishing part," he said. "I do think that part of this initiative needs to devise a system whereby institutions that do have high completion rates will be rewarded, and I think that's altogether appropriate because a lot of money is being spent in our institutions, and it does not do us a lot of good if it does not allow those students to complete.

"That's not to say we're going to downgrade the quality of our education. It means we're going to focus on the importance of completion."

Fewer than one out of four students who enter two-year Georgia colleges ever graduate, and just 44 percent of the four-year students get degrees within six years.

Yet, by 2018, more than 60 percent of Georgia jobs will require some type of college degree.

"We also know the problem is fixable," he said.

To tackle the funding formula, Deal issued an executive order to create the Higher Education Financing Commission which will present a proposal for what's known as performance funding by Jan. 1, in time for the Legislature to consider during next year's regular session.

The current formula is based on total enrollment even though more than half of the students won't graduate.

He used the announcement of a $1 million grant from Complete College America as the occasion to announce his initiatives. Georgia was one of 10 states winning a national competition for the grants funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

"Completion numbers are not good. They're not good in Georgia. They're not good across the country," said Stan Jones, president of Complete College America.

But Georgia's winning application for the grant is a positive sign, he said.

"This is also a validation that Georgia is on the right track," Jones said.

Deal is asking companies and foundations to add to the grant. It will go toward developing online remedial courses for students to study at their own pace, modeled on the middle-school dropout-prevention program used by Communities In Schools, according to Ron Jackson, commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia.

Four colleges and technical schools will test the remedial course before rolling it out statewide.

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j-campbell 08/05/11 - 01:28 pm
The best approach to

The best approach to improving graduation rates is to strengthen admission standards. On the high school level, Davidson and A.R. Johnson magnet schools have the highest graduation rates in Richmond County simply because they are populated with talented, highly motivated students. The same principle applies in the collegiate environment. We currently have barely literate students attempting to pursue college degrees. They have been permitted to float through the public school curriculum without clearly demonstrated accomplishment. Not every kid is capable of acquiring a college education as it has been traditionally defined, and those students should be somewhere else other than in a university environment.

Another issue is the measurement method applied to the institutions. Unless something has changed in the last couple of years, a school is penalized when a student transfers to another institution. That student is treated as a non-graduate in measurements taken for the school where the student began his or her matriculation in higher education. Our granddaughter is a case in point. She came here from the Atlanta area to begin her freshman year at Augusta State with the clear intention of transferring to Georgia after completion of some core courses and acquiring a feel for the demands of college life. She is now enrolled in Athens and on track to graduate in a timely manner. In other words, to date she has done everything she set out to do, and Augusta State has successfully fulfilled its role in her planned educational experience, yet within the State's measurement system, ASU is pictured as having failed since she is classified as a dropout from ASU. This approach is simply wrong.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 08/05/11 - 01:56 pm
That is a thoughtful,

That is a thoughtful, insightful post up above from j-campbell. I have a slightly different thought:

It is only natural that the buzzards eventually come home to roost. After Zell Miller rammed through the legislature and after a voting majority of Georgians approved the lottery referendum and the Hope Scholarship, the inevitable grade inflation arose in Georgia's public and private schools. Georgia became Lake Woebegon, where all the students were B students, and could go to college for one year tuition free.

The trouble was, college professors and administrators still thought that a college degree was worth something, and they did not automatically pass all those B students along as the high schools had done.

The buzzards have come home to roost. Now the Deal regime wants state universities and state colleges and state technical schools to come up with programs to improve graduation rates. Shades of No Child Left Behind! You know that the answer will be the same sort of grade inflation that the high schools are using. A Georgia state higher education institution diploma will mean very little more than a Georgia state high school diploma.

All the students are above average.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 08/05/11 - 02:03 pm
Here is another problem with

Here is another problem with the Deal regime's order (see the first sentence in the news story up above). There is a fundamental difference between high school students and college students — high school students are children and college students are adults. Though government enjoys ordering adults around, it will be difficult to order adults to complete college in a timely manner.

College students, age 18 - 24, may be foolish, reckless, naive, and even stupid; but they are still adults.

Oh, yes, and Georgia university administrators are crafty. If some bureaucrat comes up with a new funding formula, you can bet your bippy that the tech school, college, and university administrators will figure out how to hack the formula to get whatever they need. The Deal regime's “order” will increase my taxes and I will get nothing to show for it. You, too.

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