To improve college completion, aspects of higher education must be redesigned within the context of creating a more effective system. This plan includes work to improve performance in three ways:
Students admitted to college, but unprepared in mathematics, reading, or writing receive remediation, also known as learning support. These courses, although delivered at a college, do not count toward degree and certificate program credit hours, but serve as an important pathway for students who would otherwise not be given the opportunity to complete college.
The current scale of remediation at Georgia’s institutions emphasizes again the importance of including preparation in K-12 as a part of a comprehensive college completion plan. Both of the University System of Georgia’s two-year colleges provide remediation to 59 percent of entering students, and its 14 state colleges provide remediation to 48 percent of entering students. All 25 institutions in the Technical College System of Georgia provide remediation to 26 percent of first- time entry students.
Outcome evaluations reveal that current methods of remedial education must be changed to meet college completion goals. For example, students receiving remedial education at the University System of Georgia in bachelor’s degree programs have a completion rate of 24 percent within six years. Students receiving remedial education entering associate’s degree programs at either the Technical College System or the University System, have a completion rate of 7 percent within three years.
Georgia established a Transforming Remediation Work Group as part of its commitment to Complete College America. The following key recommendations of that taskforce have been incorporated into current efforts and future work:
Both the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia have taken steps on the recommendation to restructure traditional remediation. This work includes the sharing of best practices through statewide conferences held in 2011 by each System with nationally recognized speakers and institutions.
Through a recent grant from Complete College America, the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia will also work together to transform remediation in line with the Working Group’s recommendations. Over the next two years, two institutions from each System will pilot total transformations of remediation and disseminate the work statewide.
Within the University System of Georgia, the focus will be on modularization of courses, creation of alternate paths for those students significantly behind,
development of options to work at one’s own pace, and integration of support to teach success skills. Pilot projects at the College of Coastal Georgia and Georgia Gwinnett College will begin in 2012. After the grant, beginning around 2013, the work will be expanded statewide. The University System of Georgia has also made changes to its learning support policies, and will continue to review them within the context of transforming remediation for completion, for purposes of aligning them with new methods and the latest evidence.
The Technical College System of Georgia will begin implementation of a redesign of remedial English, math, and reading using proposed recommendations from the Work Group and the President’s Council Learning Support Task Force. The focus will be on development of content modules so that a student may progress at his or her own pace. In addition, new diagnostic tools will be developed to pinpoint which modules are required based on a student’s needs. The early months of 2012 will focus on curriculum development and logistics, with a pilot program at Athens
Technical College and DeKalb Technical College set to begin summer of 2012, with expanded implementation later in 2012.
The more time it takes to graduate, the less likely a student is to complete a certificate or degree. Events and demands outside the classroom can complicate college success, especially for students balancing school, work, and families.
Delays increase costs to both the students and the state. By designing clear paths for students to complete certificate and degree programs more efficiently, Georgia can help more students earn degrees and control costs for both students and taxpayers.
Complete College America recommends that states use a variety of strategies to shorten the time to a certificate or degree. These strategies include, among
others: reducing unnecessary taking of courses, improving transfer policies, and expanding alternative pathways for students to earn college credits.
The University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia plan to shorten the time to certificates and degrees through three areas of work: 1) expansion of articulation and transfer agreements (see appendix under “Articulation Agreement”), 2) construction of a student-centered transfer portal, and 3) expansion of Prior Learning Assessment.
Having robust transfer and articulation agreements in place is important, but delivering accurate and timely information to students to inform their decision- making and ensure the shortest time to a degree is also important. GATRACS, the Georgia Transfer and Articulation Cooperative Services group consists of the University System of Georgia, the Technical College System of Georgia, Georgia Department of Education, and Georgia Student Finance Commission, and is currently funded through the College Access Challenge Grant. The goal of the collaborative is to make transfer easier for Georgia students, potentially leading to increased college completion rates. GATRACS will release a web portal, housed as part of GACollege411, that will enable students to submit their college courses and grades and immediately have access to information showing to which institutions their credits will transfer.
Prior Learning Assessment, or PLA, provides a pathway to enable millions of students who have stopped short of a degree, but have acquired knowledge through other means, the chance to complete their education. In terms of
spending, 65 percent of postsecondary learning takes place through the workplace and other training.15 Postsecondary learning is also acquired through informal lifelong learning. Awarding credit where knowledge already exists creates an attractive option for potential students, especially adults, and shortens the time to degree.
The University System of Georgia seeks to expand the use of Prior Learning Assessment and will:
A recent report by Complete College America suggests that restructuring not only how education is thought of, but also how it is delivered, can improve college completion and success in a timely manner.16
While the characteristics of a “traditional” college student are changing dramatically, certificate and degree programs are still being delivered much as they have for most of the 20th century. To improve low completion rates, Complete College America proposes several approaches, including:
The University System of Georgia will address the mismatch between the needs of today’s students and the current delivery models in five areas: 1) building and sustaining effective teaching, 2) exploring and expanding the use of effective models, 3) distance education, 4) adult and military outreach, and 5) science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) initiatives.
One key to greater student success and college completion is building and sustaining teaching pedagogies that engage the student learner. The University System of Georgia and its institutions will continue to support and reward faculty to enhance their teaching strategies to promote student learning that improves college and degree completion. Teaching and learning resources as well as ongoing professional development for faculty will be an integral piece to successfully meeting the goals of this completion plan.
The University System of Georgia is exploring approaches to restructure delivery in conjunction with institutions and key external partners. These approaches include technology solutions, practice and process changes, institutional efficiencies, and partnerships and collaborations across systems, as well as with nontraditional educational partners. Key in this approach is an understanding of the benefits of technology, but not a sense of determinism that may limit future paths, especially given rapid technology changes. The University System of Georgia will also explore, along with its institutions, opportunities to redefine scheduling, share practices around scheduling, and foster student cohorts.
The articulation agreement between the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia in itself constitutes a restructuring of delivery, providing options for students to earn a degree through coursework outside a single institution or system.
A range of University System of Georgia institutions and centers are exploring different solutions to restructure delivery, including data driven enhancements (Georgia Gwinnett College, Valdosta State University, Georgia State University), educational policy (University of Georgia), and technology (Center for 21st Century Universities at the Georgia Institute of Technology).
The Center for 21st Century Universities, in particular, is exploring a number of technology-driven innovations. Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a virtual delivery model that allows participation in learning activities at convenient places and times, rather than forcing students into set timeframes. MOOCs, along with blended learning, which combines online and face-to-face interactions, can facilitate widespread, often global collaboration with other students and teams of specialized instructors. Gamification applies game-driven structures and incentives to learning. The Center is also exploring the enhanced use of experience based and group activities, alternative certification of learning objectives, as well as institutional approaches such as “markets” for learning options.
Nearly all University System of Georgia students use online electronic systems for services and learning. The University System of Georgia can better serve students by ramping up the use of technology to provide flexible course and program delivery options, and by fostering efficient development and use of shared resources.
In this focus area to restructure delivery, the University System of Georgia will:
Nearly 1 million working Georgians, 22 percent of those in the workforce, have already earned some college credit, but have not completed a degree. The University System of Georgia Adult Learning Consortium, with nine participating institutions, has developed policies, practices, models, and programs, which target the needs of adult learners. Planned work includes:
With more than 780,000 veterans in the state, the University System of Georgia will lead expansion of its military-friendly “Soldiers 2 Scholars” program and other statewide efforts to help those in military service make the transition to civilian life by means of a college degree. The Soldiers 2 Scholars program attracts and retains military students while creating campuses that are inviting and friendly
to military personnel and veterans. The College Access Challenge Grant funds the University System of Georgia’s adult and military outreach efforts.
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degree programs have a high rate of students transferring to non-STEM disciplines. The initial semesters of study in the foundational mathematics and science courses are one of the reasons for high transfer rates. Non-STEM majors have difficulty successfully completing STEM courses, as evidenced by higher failure rates and lower grades. Additionally, the necessary sequencing of STEM courses, where knowledge is often required to build from course to course, creates logistical issues that can complicate a student’s path to degree completion.
The University System of Georgia will continue its STEM Initiative, this round with seven participating institutions, and provide funds and technical support for programs that improve completion rates of students in STEM degree programs and general success measures in STEM courses. A critical objective of the
STEM Initiative is to improve the completion rate in the introductory courses, through a variety of new approaches, which will increase the likelihood of college completion. In Spring 2012, as part of the Initiative, Georgia Southern University will host a Scholarship of STEM Teaching and Learning Conference to disseminate information across University System of Georgia institutions.
Along the lines of STEM literacy for non-STEM majors, the University System of Georgia has approved pilots at South Georgia College, East Georgia College, and Gainesville State College to implement Quantway, an alternative form of remedial mathematics funded by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
The Technical College System of Georgia’s goal is to initiate systemic change by restructuring the delivery of educational programming and services so that students can earn high demand and high wage credentials in an efficient, integrated, and seamless manner. It is in the best interests of Georgia and its students to create faster, more structured pathways to a degree or certificate. The Technical College System of Georgia’s work will focus on two areas: accelerating success, and providing greater structure and clearer pathways to completion.
Plans for accelerating success include:
Plans to provide greater structure and clearer pathways to completion include: