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The University System of Georgia Campus Plan Update 2016

A composite report featuring updates from each USG institution and the System Office is available to download.  Find it here (6.4MB)

Overview

In 2011, Governor Nathan Deal announced the Complete College Georgia initiative, a collaborative effort among Georgia’s K-12 schools, public colleges, universities and technical colleges, and the private sector to take concrete steps to improve college access and completion in the state.  Framed on a set of high impact strategies organized around nine goals, the initiative builds on national research and local activities to support student success at all levels.  The overarching goal is to graduate an additional 250,000 Georgia students with high-quality degrees or certificates by 2025 in order to reach projections of employment readiness. In 2011, each institution in the University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia created action plans on the policies and procedures that they could implement to have the greatest impact on college completion within their institutional mission and context. 

Through the leadership of Chancellor Henry M. “Hank” Huckaby, Complete College Georgia (CCG) has developed into a framework for focusing institutional attention on what matters most: helping Georgia’s students succeed.  Institutions have adopted, adapted, and promoted a wide range of strategies to suit their local settings. More importantly, the work of promoting student success has become much more broadly shared on campus and better understood across the units of institutions.  Forging partnerships among functional areas and fostering understandings of how the various elements of a college or university come together for students have helped to support Georgia’s orientation toward building a 21st century workforce. 

System Profile

The University System of Georgia (USG) includes 28 institutions, with fall 2015 enrollment of 318,164 students.  Academic year 2015 marked the first year that enrollment in the University System has exceeded the recession peak (fall 2011—318,027) and is an increase of 5,228 or 1.7 percent, over fall 2014. The University System’s institutions in fall 2015 headcount ranged from 2,401 at Bainbridge State College to 36,130 at the University of Georgia.  The Georgia Institute of Technology witnessed the greatest percentage increase in enrollment at 8.3 percent, followed by the University of North Georgia and Georgia Highlands College, both of which grew by more than 7 percent in 2015.  Albany State University saw the greatest drop in enrollment, losing more than 10 percent of its 2014 enrollment, followed by Middle Georgia State University, which shrank by 3.2 percent.  Nearly 88 percent of students served by USG institutions are from Georgia, with just under 8 percent of students from out of state, and 4.5 percent of enrollment consisting of international students. The USG serves a diverse population:

»  51.6 percent white              »   27.6 percent Black

»   8.0 percent Asian               »   7.3 percent Hispanic

»   5.5 percent other categories/unreported

Over the past five years, the number of Hispanic students has increased by 39 percent and the percentage of Asian students has increased by nearly 24 percent. Black or African American enrollment declined by nearly 2 percent and white enrollment declined by 5 percent over this same period. Figure 1 illustrates the shifting composition of students enrolled in USG institutions.

Two renowned Hispanic/Latino organizations, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and Excelencia in Education identified the University System of Georgia as “the only system-wide approach in the United States designed explicitly and intentionally to increase and assure Latino college completion.”

Student preparation for college remains a challenge for college completion in Georgia.  While the Georgia Department of Education has made tremendous efforts to improve the preparation of K-12 graduates, nearly one in five students admitted to a USG institution required learning support in 2015. Learning support includes any activities beyond a college program's prescribed content that contributes to individual students' attendance, retention, learning, and achievement.

Although this number is down considerably from 2010, when the figure was 30 percent, the number of students who enter college requiring support poses significant challenges for our institutions.  The overwhelming majority of USG students enrolled in learning support—80 percent—are being served by one of the state’s 13 state colleges.  Even though the number of students has declined, in large part due to changes in admissions requirements in 2012 prohibiting students with the lowest indicators of preparation from being admitted, the USG enrolled  10,000 freshmen in learning support in 2015.  The USG created a statewide effort to improve outcomes for these students, and this initiative went to scale in the 2015-2016 school year with remarkable success.  For this reason, the emphasis on improving student outcomes in these programs, largely through changes in delivery mode, continues to be a significant priority for the University System’s Complete College Georgia work.

The USG is increasing student success through the provision of more effective and timely learning support. Traditionally, students who needed help in basic math and English skills were required to take non-credit courses before taking courses for credit that counted towards graduation. Students who had to take these courses succeeded at rates much lower than other students.  Now, many USG institutions are working to imbed extra support in credit-bearing classes.   The results have been spectacular. 73% of students receiving added supports in credit bearing, entry-level English and Math classes successfully completed the course.  Previously, when students were required to take non-credit courses to brush up their skills before taking the credited course, only 26% and 36% of math and English students respectively eventually passed the credit course within 2 years.

The University System’s mission is to create a more educated Georgia. Census data from 2015 indicate that 38.7 percent of young adults (ages 25-34) and nearly 39.1 percent of all working age adults (age 25-64) possess at least an associate’s degree.  Twenty-one percent of working age Georgians—well over a million—indicate that they have some college, but no degree.  Georgia’s young adult population has educational attainment levels above the national average for associate degrees and higher, but across the working age population, the situation is reversed, with working age Georgians falling behind the national average. See Figure 3.

Reaching the learners who are the core of the working age population, non-traditional students, is a major imperative for the University System. After increasing by 3.3 percent in 2011 over 2010, non-traditional fall enrollment fell steadily between 2012 and 2014 (by 5.9 percent in 2012, more than 10 percent in 2013, and 6.6 percent in 2014).  Non-traditional fall enrollment stabilized in 2015, holding steady at 33,183 (a drop of only 5 students from 2014) and represented 10 percent of overall enrollment.  Within the System, however, non-traditional enrollees range from less than 5 percent of undergraduates at Research Institutions to almost 20 percent of enrollment at State Colleges.  This is good news on many fronts, as the rebounding economy would be expected to pull many of these working age adults out of higher education.  Improved access to online programs and a concerted approach to serving this population on campus have contributed to continued strong enrollment with non-traditional students.

Georgia’s educational attainment rates have improved over the past five years, due in part to degree conferrals at all levels rising by 18 percent since the 2010 Academic Year.  In order to reach the CCG goals for higher education completions by 2025, the state must graduate an additional 3% of students annually, over and above previous years. While the state has been able to exceed its goals for degree production since the announcement of the CCG initiative in 2011-2012, demographic and economic trends underscore the significant work still needed to maintain the state’s momentum. Enrollments, which swelled during the recession, declined as the economy recovered, most especially among non-traditional students.  The shift in enrollment patterns reinforces the importance of student persistence and retention to meeting the state’s overall attainment goals. Figure 5 provides a view of degree production from 2010-2014.

Georgia’s colleges and universities provide a wide range of programs to meet the state’s diverse needs.  CCG has continued to work with institutions to focus on research-based, high-impact strategies that have the potential to improve student outcomes.  Top-level work areas that have been the focus of the System’s CCG activities are:

  • College Readiness
  • Improving Access and Completion for Underserved Students
  • Academic Advising
  • Shortening the Time to Degree
  • Restructuring Instructional Delivery, and
  • Transforming Remediation

These top-level strategies have in some instances been further refined to provide more flexibility to serve the range of institutions within the University System. 

Goals and Strategies

The overarching goal for Complete College Georgia is to increase the number of undergraduate degrees awarded by USG institutions.  In order to achieve this goal, the USG/CCG has adopted eight strategically-oriented, supporting goals:

  1. Increase the number of degrees that are earned “on time” (associate degrees in 2 years, bachelor’s degrees in 4 years).
  2. Decrease excess credits earned on the path to getting a degree, allowing students to focus solely on those courses they need, saving time and money.
  3. Provide targeted advising to keep students on track to graduate. With targeted advising, advisors will focus on strategies required to ensure that students complete degrees on time and without excess credit consumption, and they will specifically focus on identifying and intervening with students who have veered off track for on-time graduation.
  4. Award degrees to students who may have already met requirements for associate degrees via courses taken at one or more institutions.
  5. Shorten time to degree completion through programs that allow students to earn college credit while still in high school and by awarding credit for prior learning that is verified by appropriate assessment.
  6. Increase the likelihood of degree completion by transforming the way that remediation/learning support is accomplished. Remediation and learning support refer to efforts to support students who are not prepared for college-level work in gateway courses by offering additional instruction designed to prepare them for success in credit-bearing, college-level courses.
  7. Restructure instructional delivery to support educational excellence and student success. Instructional delivery can encompass any innovative means of pedagogy, including e-texts, online education, flipped classrooms, and a host of others.
  8. Improve access for underserved and/or priority communities

Each goal addresses a specific challenge to completion that has been identified through research.  By approaching completion through a set of goals focused on removing specific barriers to success, CCG is advancing a strategy with sufficient flexibility to be effective at every campus in the System and adaptable enough to have impact across the institutional spectrum in Georgia. The success of this flexible approach is evident in the degree and scope of adoption of strategies across the System.

This approach represents a wide range of activities across the System, and underscores a deep commitment to completion work throughout the state.  The variety of goal-oriented strategies offers institutions the opportunity to focus on those activities that match their profile and institutional mission, while not expending limited resources to pursue goals that are not priorities for the institution.   Identification of and use of these common goals have helped to focus the work at the System level on high impact strategies and provided guidance on how to implement various activities at the campus level.

Summary of Goals, High Impact Strategies and Activities

CCG Overarching Goal: Increase the number of undergraduate degrees awarded by USG institutions.

CCG Goal 1

Increase the number of degrees that are earned “on time” (associate degrees in 2 years, bachelor’s degrees in 4 years).

High-impact strategy

Credit Intensity campaigns (15-to-Finish, 4 for , Full Time is 15)

Demonstration of Priority and/or Impact

For students in higher education, more so than perhaps any other group, time is truly money. Financial aid policies have established 12 hours as a full time course load at the undergraduate level, even though a student taking that many credits a semester will require at least an extra term to complete an associate degree and an additional year for a bachelor’s degree.   By emphasizing 15 credits as full time, credit intensity programs help students get on track to graduate on time.  In so doing, students save the costs associated with the additional time in school and can get into the workforce and begin earning money sooner.  Additionally, evidence from Georgia and elsewhere indicates that students who attempt more credits in a term experience greater success, findings that are not isolated to the most prepared students.  

Primary Point of Contact

Jonathan Hull, Assistant Director for Policy and Partnership Development; Barbara Brown, AVC General and Transitional Education

Summary of Activities

Adoption of credit intensity programs across the System expanded in 2015-2016, with more institutions reporting some work on this activity, and institutions where this is an established effort making adjustments. 

Measures of Progress and Success

Measure, metric, or data element

Percentage of students enrolling in 15 or more credits per semester.

 

Baseline measures

In 2011-2012, 26.1 percent of all degree-seeking students in USG institutions enrolled in 15 or more credits in the fall semester (26.6 percent did so in the spring). In the same year, 48.8 percent  of students enrolled in between 12 and 14 credits in the fall semester (46.2 percent did so in the spring)

There is wide variation among and within sectors on this measure. 

Interim Measures of Progress

The percentage of students enrolling in 15 or more has increased nearly 4 percentage points since 2012 (to 30 percent), with an almost equal decrease in the percentage of students enrolling in 12-14 credits.

Measures of Success

By 2025, the percentage of students taking 15 or more credits a semester will increase to 40 percent.

Lessons Learned

There remains some resistance among faculty and staff regarding the merits of this effort.  Specifically, concerns continue to be raised as to the ability of some students to pursue 15 credits of coursework, most especially those students who are also working outside of school.  Evidence on student success at higher levels of credit-taking is compelling, but to date has not been analyzed while controlling for academic preparedness and employment patterns. 

This effort is linked to program maps and block schedules (which should include a minimum of 15 credits a semester as a default).  To date, institutions have taken one of two approaches to the strategy: informational and/or structural.  Most informational programs include extensive marketing to students and parents, including videos, handouts, emails, and presentations at orientation.  Structural approaches default students into 15 credit blocks at freshmen orientation, which they must affirmatively act upon to bypass. The latter approach tends to have greater benefit in terms of overall participation, even beyond the point at which the students are no longer blocked into 15 credits.  Most institutions adopting structural approaches also conduct extensive informational campaigns as well.

 

CCG Goal 2

Decrease excess credits earned on the path to getting a degree.

High-impact strategy

Guided Pathways to Success [Program Maps, Academic Focus Areas, block, and default schedules]

Demonstration of Priority and/or Impact

College affordability has emerged as a persistent concern for students, parents, and policymakers.  Among the factors that can contribute to higher college costs are students taking courses that do not apply to their course of study.  This can happen for a variety of reasons, including students who are uncertain what program to pursue, what courses to take within their program, or who change their programs.  To reduce the number of credits students accrue on their way to degrees, institutions have adopted academic focus areas to assist students in discerning the best fit program for their interests and skills, program maps that constrain choice and promote clear degree progression, and comprehensive systems of advising, maps, analytics and scheduling to align campus resources toward completion and efficiency.

Primary Point of Contact

Jonathan Hull, Assistant Director for Policy and Partnership Development; Robert Todd, Director for Policy and Partnership Development

Summary of Activities

USG institutions continued to implement their Guided Pathways strategies; USG System Office promoted program maps and advising infrastructure.  A survey of progress on GPS strategies conducted in 2015 indicated that most institutions had established appropriate math pathways and implemented new models of remediation, with some progress on establishing program maps for degree programs and academic focus areas.  Less progress has been evident in implementing predictive analytics and early alerts, and most campuses are struggling to implement predictable schedules.  The credit intensity (15 to Finish) element of the Guided Pathways approach has also been slow to take off for campuses. In general, success in 15 to Finish appears to be linked to implementation of block scheduling, but at this stage no institutions has implemented multi-year block schedules, and many institutions do not indicate any intention of pursuing this strategy beyond the first semester. 

In 2015, the Guided Pathways initiative at the USG focused on investigating opportunities to link program selection and student career preferences.  Considerable research and communication among partners to identify appropriate mechanisms for linking student’s stated interests with institutional programs were undertaken, although changes within the Georgia Career Information System as well as administrative shifts with a key philanthropic partner resulted in a decision to de-emphasize this aspect of the Pathways project.

Measures of Progress and Success

Measure, metric, or data element

Credits earned at Graduation

 

Baseline measures

In 2011, students awarded associate degrees earned an average 82 credits at conferral; for bachelor’s degrees, this figure is 138 credits.  Most associate degree programs require fewer than 65 credit hours to complete.  Most bachelor’s programs require 120 credit hours

Interim Measures of Progress

By 2015 students earning an associate degree earned an average or 84 credit hours; students earning bachelor’s degrees earned an average of 139 credits.

Measures of Success

By 2025, students earning an associate degree will earn an average or 70 credit hours; students earning bachelor’s degrees will earn an average of 128 credits.

Lessons Learned

The Guided Pathways project is an effort at coordinating and consolidating a number of discrete strategic efforts.  The complexity of this effort, with multiple activities required simultaneously, poses a significant challenge for many institutions.  Most campuses have adopted those elements that either reflect changes in system policy and guidance (most especially math pathways and remediation), but have been challenged by those that require significant logistical and technical implementation (including block scheduling beyond the first semester and predictive analytics).  The Guided Pathways initiative was ambitious in scope, demanding significant changes at institutions with very different contexts.

At this stage, this project appears to be off track, although this assessment does not reflect the significant amount of changes institutions have already committed to that support the project. 

In 2015-2016, institutions were surveyed about their interests for training and technical assistance on their Guided Pathways work, which revealed highly varied degrees of implementation, capacity, and engagement, as well as a lack of convergence on priorities for further work.  This is not surprising, given the breadth and ambition of the initiative, and points to a need to provide support on discrete components of this work in the context of a comprehensive system of success.  In 2016-2017, CCG plans to offer a “menu” of training opportunities to fill in some of the gaps institutions have with respect to their work in this area.

 

CCG Goal 3

Provide proactive advising to keep students on track to graduate.

High-impact strategy

Proactive Advising; Predictive Analytics

Demonstration of Priority and/or Impact

Many students need help to identify an appropriate degree program and remain on track to complete their post-secondary credential.  Proactive advising and predictive analytics provide meaningful, credible, timely support to students on selecting a program that will meet a student’s academic and career goals and identify when they become off track in their program.  The role of advising with relation to student success cannot be underemphasized.

Primary Point of Contact

Heather Collins, Policy Analyst

Summary of Activities

In partnership with the Regents Advisory Committee on Academic Advising, the CCG review of academic advising has worked to engage with faculty, professional advisors, Information Technology professionals, Institutional Research professionals, System Office staff, and others to update policy, provide guidance on best practices, and develop tools to strengthen advising at USG institutions. The review was organized into four main areas of work:

  • Policy Review
  • Technology Review
  • Advising Practices Review
  • Resource Development

As part of these efforts, 47 representatives from USG institutions and the System Office participated in working groups to identify solutions. These efforts have resulted in recommended BOR policy revisions that provide more clarity on the definition of academic advising, the development of a community of advisors and related institutional personnel that can learn from each other, and produce outcomes that directly support the goals of CCG.

In addition, CCG provided Collaborative Capacity Grants for institutions to convene advisors and other institution representatives to discuss issues affecting advising. Challenges highlighted during resulting symposia include predictive analytics, advising learning outcomes, second-year student retention, and child care solutions for students.

In the coming months, we anticipate the policy revisions will be reviewed by BOR in spring 2017. To complement these policy changes, CCG will convene advisors and others in sessions focused on challenges highlighted throughout the review, including data analysis in advising.

Measures of Progress and Success

Measure, metric, or data element

 

 

Baseline measures

Credit intensity; degrees at graduation

Interim Measures of Progress

Establishment of “academic advising framework,” including evaluation plans and institutional metrics (from new policy)

Measures of Success

Decrease in the average number of degree program changes

Decrease in the average number of credits that do not count toward a degree program.

Lessons Learned

Advising is the critical point of contact between students and the institution.  Robust advising systems can take many forms, including “all professional,” “all faculty,” and “blended advising.”  Advisors connect students with the often complex structure and policies of higher education, and are especially critical for the success of first generation, low income, and adult learners for whom college poses special challenges. 

There exists across institutional sectors a renewed focus on training and professional development for advisors to improve their skills and facilitate better interactions with students.  Also, as technology has advanced and the benefits of business intelligence and customer relationship management tools have been adapted for higher education, many institutions have become interested in adopting these tools.  There remain, however, significant inconsistencies across institutions in the degree to which advisors are able to access, analyze and harness the data that is generated by students on their campuses about their learning and progression. In the year ahead, meeting this challenge will be a major focus. 

A second critical advance this year was the reinvigoration of the Regents Advisory Committee on Academic Advising, which has proven vital in establishing a broader understanding of the condition of advising across the system and for sharing practices (and practice gaps) among institutions.  The presence of strong, engaged partners to support and advance competencies in the field helps to facilitate the rapid dissemination of information and a diverse set of perspectives on emerging challenges.

 

CCG Goal 4

Award degrees to students who may have already met requirements for associate degrees via courses taken at one or more institutions.

High-impact strategy

Associate Degree you Deserve (ADD)

Demonstration of Priority and/or Impact

Each year, thousands of Georgia students transfer from public two-year to four-year institutions to further their academic goals, often without receiving their associate degree. As these students continue in their studies, they often complete the requirements for their associate degree along the way.  The Associate Degree you Deserve (ADD) initiative secures credentials for students who have earned them to protect against the possibility that they will stop out and have no recognized credential for their investment in higher education. ADD also provides a milestone of progress for students as they continue their work toward a bachelor’s degree.  The ADD initiative supports the state’s need for more individuals with college credentials as well, targeting the segment of the population who would otherwise be identified as having “some college, no degree.”

Primary Point of Contact

Barbara Brown, Assistant Vice Chancellor, General and Transitional Education

Summary of Activities

An initial pilot of a reverse transfer programs was underway in 2015 involving Georgia Southern University, Augusta University and East Georgia State College.  The USG worked with the institutions to develop the criteria to identify students.  Among other factors, students needed to have enrolled at an associate degree granting institution for a minimum of 15 credit hours, transferred to another USG institution as bachelor’s degree students, be currently enrolled and have earned a cumulative minimum of 60 credits.  A list of students who met these criteria was pulled from the Academic Data Warehouse by the USG Research and Policy Analysis office in fall 2015 and spring 2016 and sent to host institutions.  These institutions subsequently emailed students about their eligibility and directed them to specific Parchment (digital credential service) portals for their institutions.  The System Office through a contract with Parchment established “storefronts” for each USG institution to serve as portals for students to apply for the associate degree and provide approval for the transfer of student information.

In the pilot, 459 students were identified as potentially eligible, with 66 associate degrees awarded in fall 2015 or spring 2016, and 29 in the summer of 2016. An additional 6 degrees were expected to be awarded in fall 2016. Other institutions outside the pilot awarded 43 associate degrees in 2015-2016 through reverse transfer of credit. 

In spring 2016, 12,618 students appeared to be eligible for reverse transfer.  Not all institutions notified students, however, and working with a smaller pool, 350 requested degrees through reverse transfer.

In order to support monitoring and analysis of this strategy, a new award delivery code was established within Banner (enterprise resource system for USG) to indicate if a degree was awarded through the reverse transfer of credit.  While some degrees have been awarded through the process prior to the implementation of this code, they are few. It is anticipated that the bulk of the degrees so conferred will be evident within the data warehouse.

Measures of Progress and Success

Measure, metric, or data element

Number of requests for degrees conferred through the reverse transfer of credit and number of degrees awarded

 

Baseline measures

Prior to the implementation year, fewer than 25 degrees were likely awarded through this process, although the precise figure is not known. Some activity in this regard was underway at Georgia Highlands College through a very labor-intensive process.

Interim Measures of Progress

In 2015-2016, 101 degrees were awarded in the pilot program; other institutions awarded an additional 43 degrees.  At least 350 additional students indicated an interest in being evaluated for the award of a degree by reverse transfer in spring through summer 2016.

Measures of Success

While it is early, it is possible that by 2020 institutions across the University System will award more than 1,000 associate degrees annually by way of reverse transfer.

Lessons Learned

Initial expectations were that response rates to emails about eligibility would not yield significant results but this does not seem to be the case.  The process remains fairly labor intensive on the sending and receiving institutions, with transcript transfer still a manual process.  Moreover, requirement for FERPA authorization for the exchange of data between institutions for review and awarding degrees remains a hurdle.  There exist some advising and financial aid considerations for students related to this project as well, as financial aid can end once a student earns the degree, even if they are intending to continue beyond.  Other emerging questions exist around how shifts in the process cost structure (transcript transfer is currently subsidized by a the USG through a grant) will affect student willingness to participate. 

 

CCG Goal 5

Shorten time to degree completion through programs that allow students to earn college credit while still in high school and by awarding credit for prior learning that is verified by appropriate assessment.

High-impact strategy

Move On When Ready, AP/IB, Credit for Prior Learning

Demonstration of Priority and/or Impact

Shortening time to degree for students who have earned college credit or can demonstrate mastery of collegiate level work significantly reduces their costs, provides momentum toward a degree, and improves the efficiency of the courses offered by the college. The growing popularity among students for dual enrollment courses offered through USG institutions, the continuing high demand for AP/IB courses and rising interest in credit for prior learning combine to indicate that these programs fill areas of need or interest among the students served by the USG.

Primary Point of Contact

Jonathan Hull, Assistant Director for Policy and Partnership Development; Sarah Wenham, Director of Retention and Progress

Summary of Activities

Institutions across the USG report increases in the number of dual enrollment students they serve.  Between 2012 and 2015 the System has seen an 83 percent increase in dual enrollment students in fall semester. Enrollment gains are even greater for spring term – nearly 92 percent. This growth has been generally well distributed across institutional sectors, with state colleges serving the greatest number of dual enrollment students (3,823 in fall 2015).  Georgia Perimeter College has had the single largest dual enrollment population of any institution in the System at 1,265 for fall 2015, greater than the freshmen enrollments of seven other institutions.

The Georgia General Assembly passed legislation in 2015 streamlining the state’s existing dual enrollment programs to increase participation and access. Many institutions have embraced the opportunity to extend their enrollment and encourage college participation in general.  Additionally, institutions have partnered with local education agencies to coordinate the delivery of college courses either on their campuses or at the designated high school, including providing training for local staff and certifying them as faculty of record for these courses.

Measures of Progress and Success

Measure, metric, or data element

Dual enrollment; Credits earned by dual enrolled students; time to degree

 

Baseline measures

Dual enrollment students (Fall Headcount 2011): 3,675

Interim Measures of Progress

Dual Enrollment students (2012-2016):

2012

2013

2014

2015

4,366

5,303

6,700

7,916

 

Measures of Success

Dual Enrollment by 2025 will reach 10,000 students annually; credits conferred through dual enrollment will exceed 216,000.

Lessons Learned

For some campuses, the changes in funding have been welcome, allowing them to enroll a greater number of students, although books and uncompensated fees remain a concern.  Additionally, institutions report limited success in matriculating Move On When Ready students into programs at their institutions. Furthermore, as the number of students interested in the program increases, there are emerging capacity concerns, most especially about identifying qualified instructional staff to provide these courses, as well as about the needs to provide advising and guidance to this student population.

 

CCG Goal 6

Increase the likelihood of degree completion by transforming the way that remediation is accomplished.

High-impact strategy

Transforming Remediation

Demonstration of Priority and/or Impact

Each year, about 20 percent of students are admitted to USG institutions with deficiencies in English language and mathematics that require remediation/learning support in order for them to be successful at the collegiate level.  Traditionally, entering students complete an assessment for readiness after admission, with those requiring remediation placed in basic skills or developmental course(s) that do not earn collegiate credit, but for which the student paid tuition. The great majority of these students did not persist to graduate from college; indeed, most did not complete the remedial course(s) required of them and left college without degrees.  Remediation, for one fifth of the student population, was more an off-ramp than on-ramp to post-secondary success. For the cohort of students admitted in 2011 needing remediation in math, only 26 percent had completed the gateway course two years after enrollment; for English the percentage is slightly higher, 36 percent, but for those requiring both, the percentage who successfully completed both gateway courses within two years was only 16 percent.

Following a careful review of existing policy and practice with respect to remediation and a review of evidence, research and input from other institutions, the USG adopted new policies and procedures to transform remediation from placement through delivery and eventual measures of success.

In the 2014-2015 academic year, five USG Institutions were “at scale” with corequisite remediation (Albany State University, Bainbridge State College, College of Coastal Georgia, Georgia Highlands College, and Gordon State College). The reconstructed model includes:

  • Revision of USG policies and procedures for Learning Support
  • Redefining the focus of remediation from trying to compensate for what students did not learn in K-12 to focus on providing students with appropriate support for completion of credit-bearing collegiate courses that serve as the gateway to the college curriculum for all students.  Remediation efforts in the USG have been referred to as Learning Support for many years.  Efforts to transform remediation have focused on putting the “Support” back into Learning Support efforts
  • Requiring most Learning Support to be delivered in a corequisite model beginning by fall of 2015. Using the corequisite strategy, students take a 1 or 2 credit remedial course WHILE taking the related credit-bearing collegiate course (English 1101 or a collegiate math course), decreasing the time, credit, and cost required to complete remediation and begin earning collegiate credit
  • Combining reading and writing into a single English remediation course
  • Eliminating the COMPASS test as an exit exam
  • Using completion of the gateway collegiate course as the criterion for exiting Learning Support
  • Reconfiguring the criteria used to evaluate the need for Learning Support (modeled on historical performance data) so that placement in or exemption from Learning Support is no longer dependent on the score of a single high-stakes test
  • Adoption of new indices for placing students in Learning Support

 

Primary Point of Contact

Barbara Brown, Associate Vice Chancellor, General and Transitional Education

Summary of Activities

In 2015, the University System went to scale at all institutions with corequisite remediation as the primary mode of delivery for Learning Support.  The systemwide implementation has resulted in a mixture of delivery and placement models for Learning Support, in effect creating experimental models investigating what works in different settings and with different audiences.  Institutions are expected to implement new curricula at both the corequisite and prerequisite (or Foundations) levels that are aligned with the skills and knowledge required by the gateway courses.

Eight institutions have already implemented “multiple measures” for placement into Learning Support. With multiple measures, students are assessed for placement in Learning Support based upon a range of factors, including their high school GPA, college entrance exam scores, and college placement assessments, with an index calculated that determines exemption from or placement in Learning Support.  The cut scores for the indices were established by historical success of similar students at USG institutions to provide a risk-informed placement for students. 

Measures of Progress and Success

Measure, metric, or data element

Percentage of students who exit Learning Support within 1, 2, or 3 semesters

Percentage of students in corequisite Learning Support who successfully complete the gateway collegiate course compared to students in gateway courses who exempted Learning Support requirements

Ultimately, the percentage of students who start in Learning Support who complete degrees on time and within 150% time

 

Baseline measures

As noted, only 26 percent of students with math remediation placements, 36 percent of those with English placements, and 16 percent of those with placements in both completed the gateway course within 2 years of matriculation.

Interim Measures of Progress

In 2015, for students in Foundations remediation courses, 64 percent completed their remediation course(s) and were eligible to continue on to pursue the gateway course.  For students placed in corequisite remediation, 70 percent completed their gateway course(s) in their first semester.  Indeed, students in corequisite remediation succeeded in the gateway collegiate course at roughly the same rate as students without learning support placements.  The table below underscores the results. 

University System of Georgia

Learning Support Enrollment, Course Completion, & Gateway Course Completion by Learning Support (LS) Course Type

First-time Freshmen (IPEDS definition) 2015-2016

Entering Cohort

52,150

Students Enrolling in LS Courses*

Total LS

Math Only

English Only

Both Math and English

Corequisite

7,387

4,747

1,525

1,115

Non-Corequisite

5,326

3,524

1,041

761

Students Completing LS Courses by Spring 2016†

All LS

Math

English

Both Math and English

Completed Math Only

Completed English Only

Corequisite

69%

67%

78%

65%

6%

19%

Non-Corequisite

60%

58%

74%

48%

4%

11%

Students Completing a College-Level Course

All Gateway

Math

English

Both Math and English

Completed Math Only

Completed English Only

Corequisite

73%

74%

73%

71%

6%

15%

Non-Corequisite

40%

40%

50%

29%

8%

20%

 

Measures of Success

Corequisite students will succeed in gateway courses at rates equivalent to those of students without learning support placements. 

Lessons Learned

Not surprisingly, with the significant changes that remediation has undergone, there have been challenges in the implementation and scaling up of the corequisite approach to remediation. USG policy stipulates that institutions will place a majority of their students requiring remediation in corequisite Learning Support. In 2015-2016, 24 percent of first-time freshmen enrolling at USG institutions required some form of remediation. A slim majority (57.3 percent) of these all students with remediation requirements pursued their learning support in corequisite classes.  Their success rates have been impressive:  overall 73 percent of students in corequisite learning support complete their gateway course in their first year (74 percent of students with math placements and 73 percent of those with English placements).  Impressively, for students placed in learning support in both English and math, 71 percent completed both gateway courses in their first year. 

While the overall placement for corequisite remediation across the System is above 50 percent, the percentage of students requiring remediation that are placed in corequisite support varies considerably, from below 45 percent at three institutions to greater than 80 percent at five institutions. Three institutions—Georgia Tech, Georgia State, and Georgia Southwestern—only place Learning Support students in corequisite models and one, Georgia Southern, almost meets that mark. The table below provides information on corequisite and Foundations level placements at USG institutions.

 

Institution

Total LS

Coreq

Foundations

% Coreq

Georgia Highlands College

983

401

582

40.8%

Fort Valley State University

171

75

96

43.9%

Columbus State University

226

100

126

44.2%

University of North Georgia

931

453

478

48.7%

Middle Georgia State University

462

229

233

49.6%

Bainbridge State College

378

192

186

50.8%

Darton State College

702

359

343

51.1%

Atlanta Metropolitan State College

334

171

163

51.2%

Gordon State College

887

465

422

52.4%

Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College

424

239

185

56.4%

USG

12,713

7,387

5,326

58.1%

Georgia Perimeter College

2,205

1,298

907

58.9%

Georgia Gwinnett College

1,330

801

529

60.2%

East Georgia State College

724

441

283

60.9%

Dalton State College

505

312

193

61.8%

Savannah State University

484

317

167

65.5%

South Georgia State College

591

391

200

66.2%

Albany State University

45

30

15

66.7%

College of Coastal Georgia

255

173

82

67.8%

Kennesaw State University

75

51

24

68.0%

Valdosta State University

26

18

8

69.2%

Clayton State University

278

218

60

78.4%

Armstrong State University

170

135

35

79.4%

Georgia Southern University

134

125

9

93.3%

Georgia Institute of Technology

21

21

0

100.0%

Georgia Southwestern State University

21

21

0

100.0%

Georgia State University

351

351

0

100.0%

Augusta University

No LS

No LS

No LS

 

Georgia College & State University

No LS

No LS

No LS

 

University of Georgia

No LS

No LS

No LS

 

University of West Georgia

No LS

No LS

No LS

 

 

Placement into remediation is more complicated than under previous approaches, with the use of placement tests now a potentially optional element for determining student’s need for remediation. It is hoped that the placement process can be automated within Banner to simplify the process for campuses and to promote more consistency on placement into corequisite classes. The multiple measure placement tool should be fully implemented across the system in spring 2017. 

At the institution level, there exist a wide diversity of approaches and models, which will naturally have different degrees of success.  Course timing, instructional methods, delivery mode, and staffing are among the variables that are at play with this new model. As institutions develop successful models and structures for delivering learning support, the USG will help to share these best practices and assess opportunities for replication. 

Most significantly, corequisite remediation has already proven to be a success.  As noted in the table above, overall 73 percent of students in corequisite learning support complete their gateway course in their first year (74 percent of students with math placements and 73 percent of those with English placements).  Impressively, for students placed in learning support in both English and math, 71 percent completed both gateway courses in their first year. 

To put this in perspective, if this same group of students had entered under the previous non-corequisite model of remediation, only 834 students would have passed, with 1,387 students essentially sidelined by math remediation. In the new, corequisite model, 2,221 students  passed the math course.  For English, only 491 would have completed the course by the second year, with 511 students exiting higher education at the USG with no degree and no path forward. In the new corequisite model, 1,002 passing the gateway courses in their first year. For students needing remediation in both courses, under previous approaches, only 57 would have passed the gateway courses in 2 years, compared to the 225 who succeed in their first year under corequisite remediation. 

 

CCG Goal 7

Restructure instructional delivery to support educational excellence and student success.

High-impact strategy

eCore and eMajor

Demonstration of Priority and/or Impact

Students are increasingly turning to online and hybrid learning models to advance and accelerate progress toward their degrees.  Institutions across the System have a variety of strategies related to this work, some directed independently, others in coordination with eCore, the University System’s collaborative online learning environment. As a statewide initiative, eCore is instrumental in taking important steps toward identifying and serving targeted populations and partnering with other collaboratives to create seamless pathways by increasing the array of online options.

The eCore program has an important role in the Complete College Georgia plan to accelerate the number of college graduates in the upcoming years. As a USG collaborative, eCore is dedicated to acknowledging and addressing economic realities while focusing on the creation of a student culture of connection and quality. eCore provides accessible, flexible, and affordable higher education course options that support CCG initiatives.

Finally, eCore relieves class-scheduling conflicts by increasing institutional core course capacity. eCore offers adult learners, with family and job responsibilities, flexible options for higher education attainment.

Primary Point of Contact

Jon Sizemore, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Distance Education

Summary of Activities

eCore

By Spring 2016, eCore courses were offered for credit by 21 affiliate USG institutions (see www.ecore.usg.edu/about/institutions/ for details). Ten institutions joined as affiliated in 2015-2016, the largest single year expansion in the initiative’s history. eCore has also remained extremely affordable, maintaining a lowered tuition rate from 2014 (saving students over $2M in tuition) and implementing open educational resources, further reducing student costs by $3M.  eCore’s centralized support services have continued to expand and improve to serve students at every stage of their program, from inquiry through graduation.  At the same time, eCore’s commitment to academic quality has been enhanced through continued investments in robust faculty development, rigorous course design standards, and careful attention to the specific context of online learning. In 2015-2016, eCore offered 26 courses, providing 69,295 credits to 22,541 students. 

eCampus

Developed in the Spring of 2016 through the consolidation of eCore and eMajor operations, eCampus is a distance education service unit of the USG. eCampus partners with USG institutions to provide quality, affordable, high demand, post-secondary online degrees and credentials that address the workplace needs of Georgia and beyond. Program development is still being identified across the state, but the degrees are ideal for traditional students and non-traditional students, such as working professionals, military members, and anyone looking to continue their education for a competitive advantage in today’s job market. Another important feature regarding programs within eCampus is their ability to be delivered in 8-week sessions in order to shorten time to degree completion.

 

Measures of Progress and Success

Measure, metric, or data element

Online enrollment; credits earned; number of degrees earned entirely online

 

Baseline measures

In 2007, eCore enrolled 4,548 students who took a total of 13988 credits.

Interim Measures of Progress

Credit Hours and Enrollment , eCore 2011-2016

 

FY 2011

FY 2012

FY2013

FY 2014

FY 2015

FY 2016

Total Credit Hours

15,482

23,243

25,550

29,833

43,843

69,295

Enrollment

5,061

7,562

8,296

9,691

14,189

22,541

 

Measures of Success

eCore is most successful as an enterprise-level deployment on online course opportunities for students across the USG. With a 348 percent increase in credit hours earned through eCore, clearly more access to eCore’s online courses is serving students well. At the same time, through improvements in student support services eCore has increased the percent of students successfully completing courses and earning credit toward degree completion.    

Lessons Learned

Since its inception, eCore has reflected upon the success of its students to adapt and adjust its work. In recent years this has included the addition of problem-based learning into a host of courses, the redesign of assessments, assignments, and projects to better measure and support students’ learning, and adjustments of course pace and structure.  Tutoring and support for eCore students have also been areas of expanded activity for the program. To this end, eCore has integrated with Smartthinking, a tutoring service, and other tutoring resources to support students within their courses. 

Faculty development and instructional design are also at the center of eCore’s success.  Instructors are required to complete training specific to the eCore. Courses and faculty are assessed on a range of measures by students, the results of which are used to improve courses. The overall satisfaction of students with their eCore courses remains consistently high across all domains and years.

 

CCG Goal 8

Improve access for underserved and/or priority communities.

High-impact strategy

Hispanic/Latino Outreach; Go Back Move Ahead; African American Male Initiative

Demonstration of Priority and/or Impact

To achieve the CCG goal of producing an additional 250,000 graduates by 2025 requires the full participation of Latino students. In 2016, Latinos comprised 8.3% of Georgia’s population, with 53% of these Georgia Latinos born in the United States and 61% of Mexican/American origin. In 2013, the USG launched an initiative to increase Latino College Completion with funding from the Goizueta Foundation. Georgia is developing a model for Latino college access, enrollment and success—a model for other state systems with emerging Latino populations to emulate. 

Primary Point of Contact

Isabel Perez, ‎Project Director for Hispanic/Latino College Completion; Rosalind Barnes Fowler, Director of Public Awareness & Outreach; Arlethia Perry-Johnson, Vice President, Strategic Communications & Marketing Kennesaw State University; and Project Director, USG African-American Male Initiative

Summary of Activities

Three institutions, the College of Coastal Georgia (CCGA), Dalton State College (DSC), and Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) developed and implemented “Promising Programs” designed to address the unique needs of Latinos at their respective institutions. CCGA has a community based mentoring program, DSC has a student-led program and GGC has a student organization/family engagement program.

The USG Principal Investigator and Project Director has led initiatives and committees to establish and promote completion by Latino students, such as the National Leadership Committee for Latino College Completion, USG Leadership Committee, Regents Advisory Committee-Latino College Completion, Regents Advisory Committee-Latino College Completion Policy, and the Latino Executive Institutional Leadership.

Measures of Progress and Success

Measure, metric, or data element

Two templates were created for the Promising Programs; a comprehensive comparative student database and a longitudinal tracking system with baseline metrics, i.e., recruitment, enrollment, academic progression, retention and graduation rate and budget template. In addition, Promising Programs also provides a semester and annual report that include a SWOT analysis. Promising Programs Principal Investigators also use institutional and external assessments to guide them.

 

Baseline measures

Hispanic/Latino Enrollment and Degrees awarded 2011:

 

Fall Enrollment

Degrees Awarded

Coastal Georgia

126

9

Dalton State

887

68

Georgia Gwinnett

812

9

System Total

14,980

1,698

 

Interim Measures of Progress

Fall Hispanic/Latino Enrollment, 2012-2015

Institution

Fall 2011

Fall 2012

Fall 2013

Fall 2014

Fall 2015

College of Coastal Georgia

126

124

129

159

148

Dalton State College

887

902

970

1,032

1,189

Georgia Gwinnett College

812

1,174

1,384

1,680

1,925

System Total

14,980

16,315

17,472

18,966

20,998

 

Degrees Awarded to Hispanic/Latino students 2012-2015

 

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Coastal Georgia

12

14

11

9

20

Dalton State

48

89

105

107

144

Georgia Gwinnett

5

34

45

49

94

Total Detail

65

137

161

165

258

System Total

1,463

1,942

2,273

2,567

2,857

 

Measures of Success

By 2025, Hispanic/Latino college participation numbers will be above 30,000 and the total number of degrees awarded to Hispanic/Latino students by USG institutions will exceed 4,500.

Lessons Learned

Early findings revealed some best practices that work for Latino students and their families, such as student/parent led cohort-models, parent engagement, bilingual English-Spanish marketing materials, and the use of student/parent feedback (surveys) to strengthen the program. The results support the findings of current and previous published research on Hispanics/Latinos, which requires taking a holistic approach by engaging families at all levels.

CCG is in the process of establishing a collaborative effort with the remaining 26 institutions to provide multiple training modules each year and to share lessons learned on increasing Latino enrollment, progression, and retentions to graduation. These modules will be data driven and have maximum impact across the USG. The goal is to create a scalable model for institutional learning.

Two renowned organizations, The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and  in Education identified the USG as “the only system-wide approach in the United States designed explicitly and intentionally to increase and assure Latino college completion.”

 

High-impact strategy

Improve access for underserved and/or priority communities

Related Goal

Go Back. Move Ahead

Demonstration of Priority and/or Impact

The “Go Back. Move Ahead. (GBMA) initiative,” as part of the state’s adult college completion effort, was designed to ultimately bring awareness of the various post-secondary options available through the 53 universities and colleges of the USG and Technical College System of Georgia institutions.

Primary Point of Contact

Rosalind Barnes Fowler, Director of Public Awareness & Outreach

Summary of Activities

GBMA helped to begin the difficult task of identifying those adult learners who had dropped out or stopped out of college in Georgia to encourage them to return to college and finish their degrees.

Throughout the 2015-16 Fiscal Year, the GBMA initiative was an outreach campaign that included outdoor media, internal and external public relations, broadcast/TV placement, radio ads (traditional and non-traditional channels such as Pandora), on and off campus recruitment efforts, back to college open houses, social media campaigns (through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube), and internal campus activities for faculty and staff tasked with implementation responsibilities across both the USG and Technical College System of Georgia.

The GBMA effort was born out of an effort developed through the College Access Challenge Grant that supported a similar effort, the Discover Your Goal outreach campaign. This effort focused primarily on 10 markets within the state versus the all-state effort attempted by the GBMA initiative.

Measures of Progress and Success

Measure, metric, or data element

The number of impressions and hits received through various outreach initiatives; the number of newly accepted and enrolled adult students.

 

Baseline measures

First-time Freshmen age 25 or older matriculating at USG institutions:

Fall 2014: 1,252

Interim Measures of Progress

Within two years, the GBMA initiative garnered over 5,500 potential adult students, who had expressed interest in returning to one of the 53 public colleges or universities.  By the end of the second year, GBMA could confirm over 200 students had returned to college.

Measures of Success

Increases in adult participation and degrees conferred to adult/non-traditional students.

Lessons Learned

Although the media portion of the GBMA initiative has ended, efforts to showcase the available matriculation opportunities to adult learners continue.  During the 2016-17 fiscal year, the GBMA eCampus team is working to reach the database of potential students to assess their current enrollment status and introduce them to educational opportunities available throughout the state.  The target goal is to see at least one-third of contacts re-enrolled in one of the state’s public colleges or universities.

The success of any outreach to Adult Learners is theoretically tied to the readiness of campuses for potential students.  The stronger the programmatic offerings at the various campuses, the stronger will be the student affairs efforts and outreach efforts. The success of any outreach program is correlated to the readiness a campus exhibits in assisting students with the various components to return to college.

In sum, any future outreach initiative must occur after efforts have been made to ensure campuses have processes, procedures and policies are in place that address the needs of adult learners. 

 

Observations

Five years of experimentation and investigation have provided Georgia with some powerful insights into how students succeed, and how they are challenged.  A consistent focus on data has been essential to frame the discussion about who is succeeding and about where more attention is needed.  The ability of institutions to identify and use data to help drive decision-making is unevenly distributed across the USG institutions, with some campuses enjoying robust data analytics systems that help shape student and institutional decisions, while others struggle to identify top-level trends among their populations.  Progress in this area is clear, and the System office has engaged in discussions on multiple levels on how to effectively leverage the assets of higher capacity institutions across the state.

Across the goals that Complete College Georgia pursues, the role of advising as a point of contact between students and the institution has emerged as absolutely critical.  Advising plays a vital role in helping students discover their path to graduation, select the courses that will keep them on that path, and guide them toward their academic and life goals.  Advisors perform a host of functions on campuses across the System, operating in an ever-changing landscape with dynamic expectations and responsibilities. The significance of this institutional function will only increase as campuses focus on strategies to help students increase credit intensity, identify and enter academic focus areas, follow specific program maps, and align their academic pursuits with workforce needs. To improve the success of these activities, an increased focus on professional learning, process objectives, and better access to and use of, technology, have emerged as areas of greatest focus.

Georgia’s institutions have been recognized nationally for their work on a range of innovations, from the use of predictive analytics in fostering student success to taking a statewide approach to addressing the needs of critical, underserved populations.  Recent efforts to alter the way students experience remediation and increase student credit taking have demonstrated significant success in helping students accelerate their college programs. These programs offer tremendous promise to support and accelerate the academic success of all students and help the state reach many students who are currently not well served in higher education.

An emerging challenge across all sectors and regions of the state is the need to close serious equity gaps if we are to reach our completion goals.  Standing in the way of closing these gaps is an unmet need for financial aid among less-resourced students.  Some institutions have attempted to close a portion of this gap through “retention grants” which help students remain enrolled in the face of small amounts of unmet need. Achieving more meaningful advances in college completion will require greater participation of students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, which will, in turn, place new burdens on institutions’ support structures, create demands for new services, and, most critically, require a commitment to campus need-based aid. 

While Georgia’s considerable success in promoting discrete strategies and scaling specific interventions underscore the strengths of operating as a System, the state’s experience also highlights the challenges of simultaneously moving a highly heterogeneous, complex collection of institutions to a coherent focus on student success across a range of measures. Critical to the state’s ongoing work will be the implementation of consistent, measurable campus goals and data reports. Another key lesson learned is that the System needs to go beyond setting policy and actively promote implementation. The goal of improving student achievement while closing equity gaps requires active policy promotion and the creation of an infrastructure that will drive gold-standard implementation of integrated interventions while supporting scale across the System. This strategy builds upon a more sophisticated understanding of what drives student success and a growing commitment at the institution level to take transformative steps to achieve improved student outcomes.  The USG has an opportunity to leverage the work of individual campuses and translate that work to drive transformation on campuses throughout the state.