not mobile

Academic & Student Affairs Handbook

2.9 Learning Support


2.9.1 Administrative Procedures for Learning Support Programs

Last reviewed: November 2013

Learning Support (LS) is a generic term for programs designed to prepare students for collegiate work. Institutions must serve students who fall below USG placement standards and have the flexibility to develop more rigorous academic criteria with which their students must comply. Learning Support programs are intended to serve students who are not prepared for core curriculum courses and need additional preparation in reading, mathematics, and/or English (writing). Students who may be served within the LS program are:

  1. Students who:

    • score below the USG-minimum admission requirements on the SAT or ACT; or
    • have Required High School Curriculum (RHSC) deficiencies in English or mathematics; or
    • are required to take placement testing and score below the minimum scores set for collegiate-level courses. (Note: At institutions where an SAT/ACT score is not required, students are required to take the placement exam if they do not submit an SAT/ACT or ELA score that exempts them from learning support.)
  2. Students who are determined by the institution to need academic assistance even though they are eligible to be admitted without LS requirements under USG policy.

  3. Students who elect to enroll in LS courses in order to prepare for Core Curriculum courses.

I. Organization and Staff

  1. Each institution shall establish a centralized (separate program) or decentralized (within the collegiate-level programs) program for Learning Support. For each Learning Support program, the following should be addressed.

    • Description of the organizational plan.
    • Who provides leadership to the program?
    • How are budgetary issues handled?
    • Who makes sure that policies and procedures are adhered to?
    • Who handles scheduling of classes?
    • Who assesses student needs?
    • Who provides analyses on total program?
    • To whom do LS faculty report?
    • How are promotion/tenure issues handled?
    • Who evaluates LS faculty?
    • How will professional development opportunities be handled?
    • Who will advise LS students?
    • Who will design and monitor an integrated, interdisciplinary curriculum which meets the unique needs of students?
    • How will assessment and programmatic changes be handled?
  2. Each institution that has learning support students will designate an appropriate faculty or staff member who will be responsible for coordinating and supervising the administration and scoring of COMPASS placement and exit tests in accordance with USG test administration guidelines.

  3. The record of each student’s LS course work, including courses, grades, and the results of any applicable COMPASS test administrations will be maintained in a USG-approved format by the registrar as part of each student’s academic record. Transcripts for all students with an LS requirement shall include placement and current status in each academic area in a System-approved format. See Section 2.9.3.

  4. Each institution shall develop a set of procedures for its LS programs. The procedures will include guidelines for implementing Board of Regents Policy and Administrative Procedures and USG test administration guidelines as well as additional institutional policies and procedures. Such procedures shall be approved by the chief academic officer and the president. The chief academic officer of each institution will provide written notification to the Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer of the USG that the institutional procedures are consistent with Board Policy and Procedures.

II. Requirements for Exempting/Placing in the Program

Screening for Placement in Learning Support Courses
Students seeking to enter programs leading to the baccalaureate degree must be able to demonstrate that they have met the University System established minimum requirements in English, reading, and mathematics in order to be allowed to enroll in Core Curriculum and degree level courses. (See Academic Affairs Handbook Section 3.2.4 for test score information.)

To exempt placement screening a student must:

For English (Writing) and Reading

  • score 430 SAT Critical Reading or higher; or
  • score 17 ACT English or higher; or
  • score at or above the advance proficiency level on the Georgia High School Graduation Test – English Language Arts (Consult the GHAGT Concordance Chart on the Student Affairs Resource page); and
  • have met the Required High School Curriculum requirement in English

For Mathematics

  • score of 400 SAT-Mathematics or higher; or
  • score of 17 ACT- Mathematics or higher ; and
  • have met the Required High School Curriculum requirement in mathematics

Institutions may set higher scores (Consult the USG Learning Support Concordance Chart - Student Affairs Faculty and Staff Resources)

Students who fail to meet minimum collegiate-level placement test scores of the COMPASS will be required to enroll in Learning Support courses.

The minimum test scores required to exempt placement in Learning Support courses are:

Reading 74
English 60
Mathematics 37

Refer to the admissions policy 3.2 Freshman Requirements for minimum COMPASS scores needed for admission to USG institutions.

Students who have taken COMPASS, or ASSET placement tests at a COC-accredited TCSG college and transfer to a USG institution will not be required to take another placement test if the placement test was administered as part of the normal application process.

A USG institution may accept a student’s COMPASS scores administered by a USG or non-USG institution or agency as long as the receiving USG institution has given prior authorization to the USG or non-USG institution or agency to administer the test to the student. Receipt of COMPASS scores produced under this provision may be through official transcript, e-mail from a pre-approved e-mail address, fax from a pre-approved fax number. ?

Institutions may require higher and/or additional standards for screening and placement into LS courses. Students entering career degree, certificate, or non-degree programs who will take any course which has a LS prerequisite must meet any applicable requirements in that area (or areas).

III. Rules regarding Learning Support Program Operation

  1. Courses in the LS program shall include English (writing), reading, and mathematics. Preparatory courses in reading, English, and mathematics shall carry course numbers of 99 or below.

  2. LS programs shall coordinate academic advisement of students with LS requirements to ensure that these students are informed about their requirements.

  3. Each institution shall have a transfer admission policy and apply it consistently to all students with LS requirements who transfer to the institution. Students who complete course work and exit an area of LS in any institution in the USG shall not be required to re-enter that area of LS upon transfer to another USG institution. For students transferring from COC-accredited TCSG colleges, exit will be considered according to guidelines issued by the Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer of the USG.

    Requirements above the USG minimum set by an institution are applicable only at that institution. Transferring students may be required to participate in LS components in those areas in which they have not exited LS at a USG institution, as long as they do not exceed the maximum number of attempts per academic area identified below.

  4. No degree credit will be earned in LS courses numbered 99 or below, but institutional credit will be awarded.

  5. The following grades defined in detail in BoR Policy 3.5 are approved for LS courses in English (writing), reading, and mathematics:

    A, B, C, D, S Passing course grade
    F, U, or WF Failing course grade
    IP Progress insufficient for completion of the course
    I Academic progress satisfactory, but coursework incomplete
    W Withdrawal without penalty
    WM Withdrawal without penalty for military service
    V Student auditing LS course that is not required but taken voluntarily
  6. Each institution may use any of these grades or symbols that it deems appropriate for its program.

IV. Rules for Students in Learning Support Programs

  1. Students who are required to take LS courses in an area may not register as an auditor in any such course in that area.

  2. Students who have exited an LS area are then eligible to enter the first applicable Core Curriculum course. They shall not be required to take lower-level courses, although students may voluntarily do so subject to the limitations established below.

  3. Students who are required to enroll in Learning Support Courses are not permitted to enroll in credit courses that require the content or the skills of the prerequisite courses, although institutions may establish co-requisite requirements for Core Curriculum courses.

    All USG institutions are encouraged to provide Learning Support for students as corequisites to college level courses. Such courses must be designed to provide instruction to supplement the specific core curriculum courses.

    Institutions shall inform students of those courses that have LS courses as prerequisites or co-requisites. The following Core Curriculum areas require students to exit or exempt Learning Support requirements.

    • Reading is a prerequisite for Social, Natural, and Physical Science courses (additional areas for exit or exemption such as LS English or LS Mathematics are at the discretion of the institution)
    • LS English and Reading are prerequisites for college-level English
    • LS Mathematics is a prerequisite for Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry (any science course with a prerequisite of college-level mathematics would also require exit or exemption from LS Mathematics)
    • It is recommended that courses such as music, art, and drama remain open for students with LS requirements whenever possible.
  4. The following requirements apply to those students who have USG-mandated LS requirements. Institutions are not required to apply them to students who exceed the USG requirements even though such students may have institutionally mandated requirements. Students who have USG-mandated requirements in at least one area and institutionally-mandated requirements in another are subject first to the USG-mandated requirements:

    1. During each semester of enrollment, a student must first register for all required LS courses before being allowed to register for other courses. This policy also applies to part-time students. Two exceptions are possible:

      • When two LS areas are required and a student is enrolled in at least one LS course, a freshman orientation course or physical education or other activity or performance course may be taken that semester instead of one of the required LS courses.
      • In the event that a required LS course is not available, a student may enroll in a course for degree credit if the student has met the course requirements, subject to the written approval of the president or designee.
    2. Students who have accumulated a maximum of 30 semester hours of college-level credit and have not successfully completed required LS courses may enroll only in LS courses until requirements are successfully completed. Students with transfer credit or credit earned in a certificate or prior degree program who are required to take LS courses for their current degree objectives may earn up to 30 additional hours of college-level credit. After earning the additional hours, such students may enroll in LS courses only. Institutions have the authority to limit accumulation of college-level credit to 20 hours.

    3. Students with LS requirements who are enrolled in both Learning Support and credit courses may not withdraw from the required Learning Support courses unless they also withdraw from credit courses. There is an exception. The student who remains in at least one Learning Support course may also remain in a freshman orientation course, a 1000-level Physical Education course, and/or a performance course (theater or music).

    An exit writing sample shall also be required in LS English, and shall be constructed, administered and graded in accordance with the following USG Guidelines as well as the institutional guidelines: Exit Writing Sample

    The exit writing sample will be primarily institutional based. An institutional coordinating committee will ensure that the examination is administered consistently to each student who is required to take it and that it is both valid and reliable.

    The following are minimal guidelines for the sample:

    DefinitionThe sample will be a minimum of 300 words.
    The topics will be chosen by a coordinating committee.
    AdministrationThe papers will be written as close to the end of the semester as feasible.
    A coordinating committee will determine the time constraints of the test, which shall be administered consistently to all students at the institution who take the test.
    The institution must be accountable for the reliability and validity of the scoring procedures. It must either use a carefully devised analytic scale which objectifies the evaluation of each paper, or it must use a panel of raters who evaluate the sample holistically.
    The institutional coordinating committee will determine evaluation guidelines for the specified criteria (below) and will base levels of competence in each area on the curriculum of the institution’s writing program.
    Evaluation CriteriaAssessment of the organization of the writing sample, with emphasis on evidence of the controlling idea and adequate and logical development, will be made.
    Assessment of sentence variety and clarity will be made.
    Assessment of mechanics and usage competence will be made.

    Institutions may set higher COMPASS scores for exit or additional standards for exit. Institutions may develop guidelines for retesting students on the exit COMPASS. Institutions electing to retest must develop criteria for retesting which must be stated in the institution’s LS guidelines.

  5. Students who exceed the USG minimum requirements but are required by the institution to take LS courses in order to prepare for Core Curriculum courses may, at the institution’s option, be exempted from any or all of the requirements specified in Section IV D. However, all such requirements imposed by the institution must be satisfied by the time the student has earned 30 semester credit hours or the student must enroll in course work that will satisfy the requirements every semester of enrollment until the requirements are satisfied. Institutions have the authority to limit accumulation of college-level credit to 20 hours.

  6. Students who are not required to take LS courses in a disciplinary area may elect to enroll in LS courses in the non-required area for institutional credit or on an audit basis. Such students are limited to a maximum of two attempts in English (writing) and reading, and three attempts in math but are not subject to the requirements specified in Sections IV. D. An attempt is defined as an institutional credit course in which a student receives any grade or symbol except “W.”

  7. LS English (writing) and reading programs must be designed so that students can complete all requirements in a maximum of one semester. LS math programs must be designed so that students can complete all requirements in a maximum of two semesters. A maximum of two semesters for English (writing) or reading and a maximum of three semesters for math may be taken.

  8. Time spent in LS course work in a disciplinary area shall be cumulative within the USG. A transfer LS student with fewer than two semesters in English (writing) or reading and fewer than three semesters in math may be granted an additional semester if that student was making appropriate progress at the sending institution and is ready for the exit level course at the receiving institution Otherwise, students must stay within the number of attempts allowed.

  9. If a student does not complete requirements for English (writing) or reading in two semesters and math in two/three semesters the student will be suspended. The student may be considered for readmission before the end of one year of the suspension if the student can provide evidence that he/she has taken measures to improve his or her skills.

  10. Students who have been suspended from the institution without completing LS requirements may not be exempted from their LS requirements through transfer of course credit unless they are eligible for transfer admission under the institution’s regular transfer admission policies.

  11. Students who have not taken any college work in the USG for one year may be retested with the COMPASS in any unsatisfied area and readmitted without an LS requirement if they meet the institutional criteria for exemption. Students who do not exempt on the retest may be considered for readmission. If an individual evaluation indicates that the student has a reasonable chance of success, the student may be readmitted for up to two additional attempts for English (writing) or reading and three additional attempts for math. Students readmitted under this provision are subject to the 30-hour limit on college-level coursework and may not take credit work if they had earned 30 credit hours during their previous period(s) of enrollment.

  12. Students with documented learning disorders as defined in the Academic Affairs Handbook, Section 3.11.1, who are required to enroll in LS, must fulfill all stated requirements, including test (COMPASS or system-approved alternate) and course requirements. General and specific guidelines for documentation of learning disorders appear in Section 3, Appendices D and E. Students will be provided with appropriate test and/or course accommodations as described in Section 3.11.5, Learning Support Considerations.

  13. Appropriate course and testing accommodations should be made for students with sensory, mobility, or systemic disorders. General and specific guidelines for documentation of these disorders appear in Section 3, Appendices D and E. Such students may be granted up to two additional semesters of LS at the institution’s discretion. Documentation on such students is to be maintained at the institution and summarized in the annual report on accommodations for students with disabilities.

2.9.2 Numbering of Learning Support Courses

Last reviewed: January 2010

A uniform procedure is to be used in reporting credit for remedial and LS courses on the workload of both teacher and student. These courses should be reported on the workload of both teacher and student in the same way that regular courses are reported.

All remedial and LS courses should carry course numbers of 99 or below. These courses should not form a part of a baccalaureate program. Any credit which may be given for these courses should not be used in fulfilling the requirements for a baccalaureate degree.

Non-credit service courses are not included in the category of remedial and developmental courses.

2.9.3 Reporting and Recording Learning Support Status on Transcripts

All students enrolled in an LS course will be reported in the USG Data Warehouse as having a requirement or enrolling as a volunteer.

USG procedures for LS Programs require that records of each student’s LS status and results of all placement and exit tests administrations be maintained in a USG-approved format. Transcripts of all students screened for LS need to include placement and current status in each LS area in the following format.

The following information is to be recorded on a student’s transcript each time the student takes the CPE:

  1. Name of Test (CPE or COMPASS)
  2. Type of Test (R, E, or M for English, Reading, Mathematics)
  3. Scale Score
  4. Date of Test (optional)
  5. Identification (E, X, P, L, U, N)

The definitions of identification codes follow:

Code Definition
E = Passed the exit test (based on institution’s minimum score)
X = Exempted LS in this area by scoring high enough on CPE or COMPASS and meeting all other institutional requirements for exemption
P = Placed in LS in this area
L = Area was satisfied through alternative procedures approved by the Chancellor for international students and students whose native language is not English
U = Failed the exit test (based on institution’s minimum score)
N = Career degree student who did not exempt LS in this area but whose program does not require LS in area

If the student is placed in LS by the institution, the following additional information is needed:

LS Area (optional): LSE, LSM, or LSR for English, Mathematics, or Reading
Reason for Placement: S (System requirement) or I (institutional requirement) or V (volunteer) as defined by the ADM Data Element Dictionary (Learning Support Requirement Indicator for English, Math, or Reading
Current Status: Print C to indicate that a student has exited LS in the area or D if the student has been suspended or dismissed for failure to exit the area or leave blank if not applicable at that point.

Sample Transcript Notations
Student “X” enters with a 450 SAT Verbal, a 480 SAT Math, and no CPC requirements. The college requires students to take the COMPASS if they score below 500 on either part of the SAT. Hence, student X was required to take the COMPASS and made the following scores: COME-75, COMR-73, COMM-78. The institution places the student in an LS Reading course. The transcript notation would be as follows:



The “P” indicates that the student was placed in LS in this area.

The “I” indicates that the placement is due to an institutional rather than USG requirement since the student scored 450 on SAT Verbal and had no CPC requirements.


After two semesters, student X takes the CPE Reading exit test, passes the test, and completes all requirements for exiting the area. The following entry would be made on the transcript:

CPER/78/0395/E/I/C or CPER/78/0395/E LSR/I/C

This entry indicates that the student passed the CPE exit test and satisfied all requirements to exit the LS area of Reading.

Prior to Fall Quarter, 1994, the following codes and definitions were used:

The definitions of Identification codes follow:

Code Definition
E = Exited LS after successfully completing all required course work and CPE
X = Exempted LS by scoring high enough on CPE and meeting other institutional requirements for exemption
P = Placed in LS
L = Area was satisfied through alternative procedures approved by the Chancellor for international students and students whose native language is not English
U = Unsuccessful exit attempt
N = Career degree student who did not exempt LS in this area but whose program does not require LS in this area

An actual entry on the transcript would appear as follows:


This entry indicates that the CPE in Reading was administered in September, 1990 and that the student received a scale score of 68 and was placed in LS Reading.

Return to Top