Study: South needs to get more kids to graduate college. Regents agree. They are putting new pressure on colleges.

A new study says Georgia needs to graduate more kids from college. The Regents agree, ordering colleges to improve their completiion rates.

A new study says Georgia needs to graduate more kids from college. The Regents agree, ordering colleges to improve their completiion rates.

Let’s follow up some good education news — Georgia’s rise in its high school graduation rate — with some bad: Most Southern states lag not just the U.S. but other developed nations in college completion rates.

The report  The State of the South 2010 by MDC, a nonprofit dedicated to improving educational and economic opportunities,  ranks 13 Southern states in comparison with the 36 members and partners in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development on their percentage of residents ages 25-34 with at least a two-year degree.

Eight states fall below the OECD average of 35.4 percent. With a rate of 35.7, Georgia is not among the eight, but our rate is  still lower than the U.S. average of 41.6.

“For states and communities, a citizenry with a higher level of educational achievement has multiple pay-offs,” the report says. “For one thing, people who go beyond high school have a habit of avoiding poverty; people with some college education or better tend to figure out how to sustain themselves in the middle class. What’s more, the more parents are educated, the less likely their families and their children will fall into poverty; an aggressive offensive to increase the numbers of young people with degrees and credentials amounts to a frontal assault on intergenerational poverty.”

The South now has a “job gap” totaling 3.1 million jobs—the number of positions it would take to get back to 2007 employment levels. At the region’s best recent rate of job creation, it could take five years to recover.

Specific to Georgia, the report states:

–In Florida and Georgia, more than four out of ten students did not graduate from high school on time. In Arkansas only 20 percent and in West Virginia 27 percent of students did not finish high school on time, and yet in both states three out of ten high school graduates did not enroll in college.

In general, about 30 out of 100 once-9th graders in the South would not graduate from high school in four years. Roughly 26 out of 100 would graduate from high school but not go directly to college, and 14 out of 100 would enroll in college but not make it through their second year. Ultimately, only 20 out of those 100 once-9th graders would end up with a degree in four to six years of college.

–The South’s job gap amounts to 3.1 million jobs—in a national job gap of 11.3 million. If the nation added 321,000 jobs per month—the best average monthly growth in the 1990s—it would take nearly five years to erase the job gap. Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas rank in the nation’s top 10 job-gap states. There’s a growing postsecondary gap: in 2018, it is projected that 49 to 64 percent of Southern jobs will require some college, while states are producing postsecondary degrees at rates around 30 to 44 percent.

–Unemployment rates in Southern states for people 25-64 years old range from 10 percent to 22.4 percent for people without a high school diploma, 5.4 percent to 9.7 percent for people with some college or an associate’s degree, and 3 percent to 6 percent for people with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

–In general, the higher your educational attainment, the more you are likely to earn in annual income. Across the South, people with an associate’s degree can expect to earn from $6,700 to nearly $13,000 more than people in their own state with only a high school diploma. In Texas, the so-called “wage premium’’ for an associate’s degree is $12,800, in South Carolina $9,900, in Tennessee $9,400, and in Mississippi, the lowest in the region, $6,700. The premium for a bachelor’s degree compared to a high school diploma is even greater—from more than $24,000 in Virginia, to $21,500 in Georgia, to $16,500 in Kentucky and to $13,300 in West Virginia.

The AJC also has a story today about college completion rates:  According to the story:

The University System of Georgia enrolls more than 310,000 students — an increase of more than 100,000 in the past decade. Behind that rapid growth lies a problem. Less than 60 percent of students graduate within six years.”Let’s be honest, that is an embarrassment,” said Willis Potts, chairman of the State Board of Regents. “If we take students’ money we have a moral and ethical obligation to do everything we possibly can to help them graduate. We haven’t been doing that.”

The regents ordered each college president to explain where their campuses struggle. They had to develop improvement plans, with most calling on graduation rates to improve by 1 percent a year over the next three years. The regents approved those plans earlier this month.

Potts said the next step is to research linking campus funding and presidential compensation to how well colleges meet their  goals.

110 comments Add your comment

JacketFan

October 27th, 2010
8:25 am

Thank you, Maureen, for posting this. I think it’s time the state and the education system recognize that college is NOT for everyone. Professors do not have time to hold hands – we’re professional scholars with obligations to perform research, engage in professional discourse, write and win grants. If these students can’t get it done in grade school, then too bad. It is not the job of higher education to teach the skills these people are supposed to learn long before they get to this level. The open enrollment model is failing – time to close the flood gates and get realistic in regard to higher education. It’s also time for people to be honest about technical education and promote it as a viable and significant alternative to “college.”

Old School

October 27th, 2010
8:34 am

About 80% of the jobs requiring some education/training beyond high school and only about 20% requiring a college degree. I think better career counseling and opportunities for career exploration in middle and high school might better serve our students. Remember the early days of comprehensive high schools when vocational centers were built, staffed with industry hires, and class size limited to 18? Ours took into consideration the needs of the surrounding industries and communities and not only sought to prepare students with the entry level job skills needed to go to work but strived to prepare them for higher education and the larger world of work.

This sounds like more attempts/mandates to fix things from the top down and we know how well that has been working.

Former Teacher

October 27th, 2010
8:38 am

Yes, thanks for posting. First, in elementary we promote students who aren’t prepared to secondary school. There, we MUST have them graduate regardless. Then we require college, where many students take numerous remedial classes. Some students, of course, never graduate and many require six years. Now we are going to force colleges to “pass” students. We are pushing the wrong people; it isn’t the educators, it’s the students who need to change. What’s next? Will we require employers to retain unqualified employees? At some point (the earlier the better) we need to make it the student’s job to get educated. Years of experience have taught me that everything is already in place to make all students successful. The only thing missing is the student’s desire to actually do it.

Teacher Reader

October 27th, 2010
8:45 am

Former Teacher, you took the words out of my mouth. We keep passing children along having low expectations for them beginning in kindergarten. This will now continue through college. Do we really want to lower the bar and have poorly educated people doing important jobs that could be life or death to someone else? I already see poorly educated teachers in the classroom. What’s next nurses that can’t add? None of this makes any sense to me.

I fear what is happening to our country. When will the real issues be addressed?

Kids who are poorly prepared for college shouldn’t graduate from college. Kids who are not ready for the next grade in elementary school should not be passed on. Kids in middle and high school who don’t have the grades should be passed on. When are we going to hold the individual as responsible as the government institution?

What if

October 27th, 2010
8:48 am

AND, different colleges serve different folks. Some of the schools are essentially open enrollment; virtually anyone can enroll; it just shouldn’t be a surprise that those places have lower completion rates than UGA, which takes the next to the top of the bunch (the top of the bunch go out of state – sadly, our tier 1 schools are distant second choices for the cream of our crop). Two unintended consequences will happen if we begin to rate colleges on grad rate: (1) the essentially open-enrollment schools will be forced to NOT be, and (2) “standards” will be lowered. Easiest way to raise grad rates (works in K-12 too) is to let poor performers through. It may well be that some good things will also happen – e.g., more attention to helping marginal students. Question is, will we have policymakers with their heads on straight enough to be aware of and help avoid the bad while facilitating the good? (Remember, this is Georgia :-( )

Attentive Parent

October 27th, 2010
8:48 am

Did anyone else notice how the report used “degrees and credentials” and “educated parents” as if they were synonymous?

Therein lies a big part of the problem with higher ed and it sounds like the BOR will worsen the gap with its pressure on USG presidents to get their graduation rates up. The answer is to continue to lower the bar of what constitutes acceptable academic work in a course.

Degreed but poorly educated and with lots of debt is the likely outcome of such a pernicious, obtuse policy.

What if

October 27th, 2010
8:49 am

Ah. Hear ye, Former Teacher.

Dr NO

October 27th, 2010
8:53 am

Most of these kids dont belong in college as they are simply just to stupid. GET A JOB.

Proud Black Man

October 27th, 2010
8:55 am

“In Florida and Georgia, more than four out of ten students did not graduate from high school on time.”

Aren’t these rethuglican controlled states?

“In general, about 30 out of 100 once-9th graders in the South would not graduate from high school in four years.”

Wait a second, isn’t the South solidly rethuglican?

“The University System of Georgia enrolls more than 310,000 students…”

Can someone break those numbers down by demographics?

“Less than 60 percent of students graduate within six years.”

Hasn’t Georgia been a rethuglican state for a minute?

Typical tea (insert the name that cannot be mentioned) response: Its Obama’s fault!

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
9:00 am

Proud Black Man

It must really suck to be you. I mean seriously, calling people names, blaming white people for all of your problems. Your IQ must be really low.

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
9:01 am

“Its Obama’s fault!”

Typical Obama response: It’s Bush’s fault.

Dr NO

October 27th, 2010
9:02 am

I would venture to guess at the diploma mills of Morris Brown, Clark Atlanta U etc the graduation rate is much higher.

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
9:03 am

Now, as far as this topic goes, college is not for everyone. I know plenty of people who went to college, got D’s and then their degree, and now screw their job up on a daily basis. College does not make one smart nor does it ensure a job making over 100 thousand a year. Tech schools will be the future in this country because the normal fields are overwhelmed with grads.

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
9:05 am

“South needs to get more kids to graduate college. Regents agree. They are putting new pressure on colleges.”

What about the college grads who go on to work temp jobs etc? A college degree does not always equal a high paying job.

Maureen Downey

October 27th, 2010
9:13 am

@Dr. No, Not sure that those colleges are diploma mills. And I think those colleges would not have high numbers of grads because they have the issue of kids having to drop out because of money — UGA graduates more students for two reasons. It gets the highest achieving kids in Georgia and it gets the middle-class. Those kids are less likely to have parents who may be laid off and unable to make the room and board payments and the books and fees payments. (I didn’t mention tuition because so many kids at UGA are on HOPE.)
Maureen

Teacher Reader

October 27th, 2010
9:13 am

As a white teacher, I have always amazed by the black administrators and teachers who did not want better for the black students in the school. This could be that the black administrators and teachers were poorly educated and didn’t know what a good education looked like, but I see blacks sending blacks down the road to failure-especially here in DeKalb.

Our education system has taken a down ward turn since the government got involved during the Carter administration. Until parents and citizens of America realize that it is not the governments job to educate and employ its people, than people will be less ad less educated, as then only the government will be able to take care of them.

Just Wondering

October 27th, 2010
9:16 am

Post secondary is critical for kids to have more options at a better life. No one on here questions that more education increases earning power (someone with a bachelors earns nearly double someone with a high school diploma) and employment (the unemployment rate for bachelors degree is less than a third of that for HSDs). And our kids compete in a global marketplace (there are plenty of legal immigrants here getting paid to do jobs that our kids don’t have the skills to do)

The problem that no one is addressing is that both parties have turned it into a numbers game that emphasizes quantity over quality. When the barometer is how many get out the door to the next level, that creates the environment to play fast with numbers (GA grad rates, crct, etc.).

Just wondering, if Ga DOE, School Districts, Ga Department of Technical Education (Community Colleges) and the Regents focus on “producing” the most in demand graduates possible, would we see some real transformation of education.

Proud Black Man

October 27th, 2010
9:21 am

@ Proud White Man

Like my name so much you had to co-opt it for your own huh? It must REALLY suck to be you. I mean seriously you non-imaginative cuckolded tea (insert the name that cannot be mentioned.)

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lyncoln

October 27th, 2010
9:36 am

Looking at the MDC report details I was mostly shocked at the completion rates for 2 year degrees.

Why do 19 out of 20 black students who enroll in a 2 year college in Georgia fail to get a diploma in 3 years? That is a tragic number. And even the white students aren’t much better. Only 7 out of 8 entering 2 year colleges failed to receive a degree in 3 years. Those sort of numbers should be considered unacceptable.

I would hope the Regents will spend more focus on 2 year degrees just based on the numbers.

Just Wondering

October 27th, 2010
9:39 am

@lyncoln Most students in Community Colleges are there for certification programs (EMS, HVAC, beautician, medical assistant, etc) which is why the 2 year completion rates are so low.

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
9:43 am

“Like my name so much you had to co-opt it for your own huh? It must REALLY suck to be you. I mean seriously you non-imaginative cuckolded tea (insert the name that cannot be mentioned.)”

Better than a welfare baby daddy like yourself.

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
9:44 am

“This could be that the black administrators and teachers were poorly educated ”

That’s what Affirmative Action does. It helps promote mediocrity and we all suffer for it. Thanks to people like Proud Black Man and Jesse Jackson, we get mediocrity and race baiting.

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
9:46 am

“Like my name so much you had to co-opt it for your own huh?”

It’s called sarcasm, Sharpton.

“I mean seriously you non-imaginative cuckolded tea (insert the name that cannot be mentioned.)’

Ah, too bad your messiah cult leader didn’t turn out to be great after all. November 2 is gonna be a nightmare for race baiters like yourself.

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
9:47 am

“And our kids compete in a global marketplace (there are plenty of legal immigrants here getting paid to do jobs that our kids don’t have the skills to do)”

Kids can’t mow lawns anymore? Geez, we are in trouble.

JacketFan

October 27th, 2010
9:53 am

I really wish we had an “ignore” function on these boards …

JacketFan

October 27th, 2010
9:54 am

@Just Wondering – you are incredibly misinformed. Students seeking certificates are not included in those numbers.

Proud Black Man

October 27th, 2010
9:55 am

“It’s called sarcasm, Sharpton.”

More likely no imagination Duke.

“Ah, too bad your messiah cult leader didn’t turn out to be great after all. November 2 is gonna be a nightmare for race baiters like yourself.”

It ain’t over till the fat lady sings. The rethuglicans had 8 years to govern and look what happened. No race baiting here PWM, just calling it like I see it.

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
10:07 am

“More likely no imagination Duke.”

David Duke is a Democrat, genius. Try again.

“The rethuglicans had 8 years to govern and look what happened.’

Yeah, we had low unemployment. How’s that 10% unemployment working out for you?

“No race baiting here PWM, just calling it like I see it.’

Same here, race baiter.

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
10:09 am

“It ain’t over till the fat lady sings. ”

Are you talking about Barney Frank or Charlie Rangle?

Proud Black Man

October 27th, 2010
10:18 am

“Are you talking about Barney Frank or Charlie Rangle?”

No, but its been over for Tom DeLay, Randy Cunningham and tricky Dick. I could go on but you get the picture.

Attentive Parent

October 27th, 2010
10:20 am

Mercy me what a dialogue.

The graduation rate from USG schools should be getting much better soon as Georgia has now promised to move away from offering remedial classes to anyone graduating from high school. Paying for college classes that were not credit bearing has an impact on college completion.

Does anyone think this will really help those whose reading, writing, or math skills are too low now?

Oh yes. Same low skill level but now they still get the degree.

That will have the same ultimate effect on the US higher ed industry that mandating faulty credit histories should not impact on the ability to get a federally insured mortgage did to the US housing and banking industries.

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
10:27 am

“No, but its been over for Tom DeLay, Randy Cunningham and tricky Dick. I could go on but you get the picture.”

Uh, that was what, 4 years ago black guy? This is 2010.

Also, I could go on as well but I don’t have to because next week is going to be a big ole beat down of the Democrat Party.

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
10:28 am

“Oh yes. Same low skill level but now they still get the degree.”

Yep, and like the old saying goes, D’s get degrees.

Proud Black Man

October 27th, 2010
10:37 am

“Also, I could go on as well but I don’t have to because next week is going to be a big ole beat down of the Democrat Party.”

And everone will live happily ever after? Keep dreaming fool, keep dreaming.

Future Teacher

October 27th, 2010
10:50 am

@ 9:53 JacketFan, I agree. This other discussion going on is annoying. Maureen, is there anyway you can clean up the board from those obviously not on topic? They’re taking away the good discussion from the topic at hand.

Yankee Prof

October 27th, 2010
10:53 am

Shouldn’t be surprising that our graduation rates have been going down, particularly at the open-enrollment schools. Please remember that, five years ago at Gov. Perdue’s urging, the university system did away with the “Freshman Index” for open-enrollment colleges. This meant that students no longer were required to take the SAT for admission. This had the desired effect of “improving” the state’s SAT scores, since lower-performing students no longer had to take the test and,therefore, were not dragging scores down. But the inintended or ignored consequence is that those students were then dumped into the university system and left to wash out, taking graduation rate scores down with them instead!

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
10:54 am

“And everone will live happily ever after? Keep dreaming fool, keep dreaming.”

No, not everyone. People like you will be bitter and angry as usual.

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
10:56 am

Yankee Prof

If Georgia is so bad with education, explain northern states like Illinois, Michigan and NY that are going bankrupt. Illinois’ ex-governor is a crook who should be in jail. NY’s governor is an idiot and the last one quit for prostitution.

Maureen Downey

October 27th, 2010
11:00 am

@Proud White Man, Not sure how a state’s governor reflects on the quality of education or its graduates. Industries moving to new states are looking at the employment skills of its citizens, not its governor. I ran an entry a while back on the fact that Georgia is not positioned to attract a lot of the new emerging industries because of education deficits.
Maureen

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
11:09 am

“Not sure how a state’s governor reflects on the quality of education or its graduates.”

Oh boy.

“Industries moving to new states are looking at the employment skills of its citizens, not its governor.”

No, in fact most companies are looking for NON UNION and LOW TAX states to open up shop.

“I ran an entry a while back on the fact that Georgia is not positioned to attract a lot of the new emerging industries because of education deficits.”

Oh, so now you have to have a degree to build a car in a plant? Huh, whodathunkit.

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
11:14 am

Maureen Downey

My point with governors and northern states is that northern states have better education systems yet most of them are going bankrupt. The south is more business friendly and is mostly non union. I had to get a jab in about a couple of northern governors because Yankee took a pot shot at Purdue. Left wingers like to beat up on Sonny yet they fail to realize that Sonny is Reagan compared to Blago, Patterson, Spitzer, Granholm etc….

Georgia isn’t anywhere near financial chaos as Illinois, NY or Michigan.

clueless

October 27th, 2010
11:21 am

We don’t need to dumb down colleges to do this.

lyncoln

October 27th, 2010
11:34 am

@Just Wondering, JacketFan,

I’m pretty sure the graduation percentages are coming from the SREB factbook (cited in the MDC report). I found a similar set of numbers at the SREB website for the 2004 cohort (MDC reports the 2005 cohort). The footnote the SREB had says that the percentages were based on “first-time, full-time, degree- or certificate-seeking students who in enrolled in public two-year colleges in the fall term”.

So, part-time students are not included, but full time students seeking either a degree or a certificate are included. And even then, the 2004 cohort had a 6.4% completion rate for blacks, 14.0 for Hispanics and 14.9 for Whites. Full time students at 2-year schools in GA just don’t seem to finish in 3 years no matter what they are hoping to earn. Nationally the averages listed are 10.8, 15.1, and 23.3, so even the whole nation does a poor job for full-time students going to 2 year schools. Some combination of the schools and the students are not succeeding in providing a “2-year” degree or certificate.

HS Public Teacher

October 27th, 2010
11:36 am

To do this, colleges WILL dumb down the courses. Attendance grades in college? Sure – why not?

Places like Albany State College, West Georgia, and Georgia State already exist where basically all you do is pay tuition for 4 years to get a diploma. How much easier can it get?

A college degree of any sort should never be assummed. It should be earned and it should MEAN something academically. It really should not mean that you simply paid tuition.

SDK

October 27th, 2010
11:46 am

The BOR must realize that 100,000 extra students enrolled in the BOR colleges are the students who would not have otherwise attended colleges. So, I don’t see how the BOR can expect the same graduation rate when you add additional 100,000 (well, most of those 100,000) who were below the lowest level students who were admitted.

However, I am actually ok with making colleges open to more students. Some (don’t know how many) of those 100,000 wouldn’t have gone to colleges even though they are academically well prepared for a number of reasons, finance being one of the most critical ones. As long as colleges are graduating the quality students, then a lower graduation rate should not concern us.

Maureen Downey

October 27th, 2010
11:55 am

@Proud, I would recheck my facts about state economies. Everything I have read says that we will be slower to see recovery in Georgia because so much of our economy depended on the real estate market. We also have much higher foreclosure rates than many other states. So, I am not sure our residents are any better off than their counterparts elsewhere.

Maureen

JacketFan

October 27th, 2010
11:57 am

@HS Public Teacher – Georgia State does not just hand out diplomas. Sorry, but that’s just not true. Now, are there programs (e.g. education) that pass people through? Absolutely. As a graduate of GSU, I take pride in the education I received. Physics wasn’t any easier there than at Tech – it’s still physics.

And, I agree with posters about the 2-year colleges. They are just money-making scams for the state. It’s a revolving door – students flunk out (especially those taking the remedial courses), and new students fill their spots. Or, as in the case with GPC, more and more seats are added to increase enrollment numbers without a thought towards retention. It’s all about the money. Pure and simple.

JATL

October 27th, 2010
12:02 pm

Wow -that’s just great, so are they going to start dumbing down the college curriculum even more to get more graduates like they’ve done in so many high schools? I’m so freaking sick of the “everyone must go to college” rhetoric! What about the plumbers and electricians who make 50 -100K a year? How about a family where Dad is a plumber, a truck driver, a forklift operator, a carpenter, etc. and makes 40 -100K per year, and Mom is a dental hygienist, medical assistant, nail technician, hair dresser, vet tech, etc. who makes 25K -over 50K per year? Are they so bad off? I have friends where the Dad never went to college -only truck driver’s school -and owns his own trucking business making well over 100K per year. He’s now expanded into hunting tourism and is raking it in. Mom stays at home. Neither were great scholars, but their smarts evidently lie somewhere else -in entrepreneurship for starters. We really need to track kids in school and steer them toward what type of post-high school education or training would be best for them. It’s NOT all about college!

JacketFan

October 27th, 2010
12:06 pm

@JATL – You are absolutely right. The greatest education myth of the last 50 years is the idea that college will solve the nation’s problems in regard to employment. It’s the “big lie” and it is hurting education more than any other variable.