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Regents Begin “Dissecting” Benchmarking Data

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Presentations Address Performance of System’s Students and Higher Education Funding

Atlanta — October 11, 2000

The Board of Regents began dissecting the volumes of information gathered in its comprehensive benchmarking process today (Oct. 11) by addressing some of the demographic characteristics and the SAT performance of University System of Georgia students, as well as per-student funding patterns within the System. The data was analyzed to determine which of the System’s 34 institutions are “outlying” – falling “above” or “below” the normative range of peer institutions used to benchmark the System’s performance.

The board heard its first in-depth report regarding the University System’s benchmarking data during a meeting of the regents’ Strategic Planning Committee. That Committee, which convenes as a Committee of the Whole, will be responsible for tackling the voluminous data throughout the current academic year. The process is expected to culminate in July with policy recommendations and an action plan. This month, seven issues were identified for further consideration by the board in its next phase of strategic planning.

The Board of Regents meeting was held on the campus of South Georgia College in Douglas, the second of two regents meetings held on a System campus this year. South Georgia’s campus community assembled over the two-day period to demonstrate their support of the two-year college.

Daniel S. Papp, the Board of Regents senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, presented most of the benchmarking data, beginning with details regarding the System’s SAT scores, citing that “some significant differences in scores exist as a result of students’ course-taking patterns in high school.” Papp also noted that the data showed “complex relationships between test scores and the gender, race, parents’ education levels, income and cultural experiences of students.”

Among the University’s System’s “research sector,” Georgia Tech was the only “outlying” institution, performing above its peers in SAT performance. In the regional/state university sector of USG institutions, the System’s three historically black universities (Albany State, Fort Valley State and Savannah State universities) performed below their USG sector peers; however, when matched against other HBCUs in their identified benchmarking group, their performance was consistent with the normative range.

The SAT data holds value for System officials because it can be used to measure the selectivity of the USG’s 34 institutions. In addition, “SAT scores and high-school grade point averages together are the best predictors of first-year college grades,” Papp said.

Two recommendations were formed as a result of the institutional SAT scores. Papp suggested that the Board re-visit the regional/state university sector data after full implementation of its Admission Policy Direction in 2001, and that System officials continue working with the three HBCUs on the progress being made with that sector’s SAT scores. Racial/ethnic composition data about the University System’s undergraduates reflected that two research institutions have African-American enrollment percentages above the normative range. Georgia Tech and Georgia State, on the face of their data, appeared to be in good standing with regard to minority enrollment, performing above the normative range. The University of Georgia performed within the normative range. (The Medical College of Georgia, the USG’s fourth research institution, was not counted in this data because of its very low enrollment of undergraduate students).

Papp emphasized, however, that the demographic composition of Georgia – being close to 30 percent African American – places the data in a different light, since peer institutions against which the three institutions were benchmarked are located in communities with lower African-American populations. The System’s three HBCUs also were identified as “outlying” institutions in the regional/state university category for their African-American enrollment.

In addition to identifying opportunities for improvement of minority enrollment in two institutional sectors of the System, the racial data also addressed the issue of disproportionate enrollment for African-American males, which stands at 37.5 percent in the University System of Georgia, compared to 45.1 percent Caucasian/non-Hispanic male enrollment. Papp recommended that the board include both of these issues among its future strategic planning concerns.

Statistics on the enrollment of part-time students in the System resulted in recommendations that further evaluation be conducted regarding “how well USG institutions meet the needs” of this special population and “other non-traditional students,” and whether existing services reflect “best practices.”

William R. Bowes, interim vice chancellor for fiscal affairs for the Board of Regents, outlined some of the financial realities associated with governing the University System of Georgia as part of the benchmarking presentation, including per-capita funding of USG students. Bowes noted that “the relationship of the funding method to enrollment change can cause significant variation,” and accordingly, “year-to-year funding can change significantly.”

In the category of appropriations and tuition revenues per “full-time equivalent student,” the University of Georgia was identified as an outlying institution among its research sector peers. Three outlying institutions in the USG’s regional/state university category, Southern Polytechnic State University, Savannah State University and Columbus State University, all had unique circumstances that explained their positioning within the sector. Responses to benchmarking surveys for the two-year colleges were insufficient to provide an accurate analysis of the sector of institutions.

Bowes’ presentation resulted in recommendations that further review be given to the financial data collected in the benchmarking process and that it be included “among the variables to be considered in developing the annual University System allocations.” It addition, it was recommended that the relationship between the enrollment of part-time students and funding per FTE student be analyzed.

All issues identified for further consideration will be re-examined once the Board of Regents begins shaping its benchmarking action plan in Spring 2001.

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