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Regents Get Update On Increasing Retention, Progression and Graduation

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Atlanta — January 10, 2006

The Board of Regents received an update today on an initiative to increase student success by boosting retention, progression and graduation (RPG) rates in the University System of Georgia.

Daniel S. Papp, senior vice chancellor for Academics and Fiscal Affairs, told the regents that the complexity of the issues impacting academic success has led those tackling the initiative to divide their work into six different areas or “dimensions:”

  • Institutional Targets and Plans: All USG institutions have developed their own targets for increasing retention, progression and graduation rates and have submitted plans for reaching these goals. The University System Office officials now are reviewing these plans and will provide feedback on them to campus officials by April.

  • RPG Best Practices: A group of 72 RPG campus “liaisons” appointed by USG presidents held a System-wide workshop in October 2005. They discussed issues involved in increasing retention, progression and graduation rates and they shared institutional “best practices” impacting these performance measures. A follow-up workshop will be conducted in February 2006.

  • Financial and Economic Impacts: A committee composed of USG chief business officers, vice presidents for academic affairs, vice presidents for student affairs and legal officers has developed a set of possible financial and economic incentives that could boost retention, progression and graduation rates. The options under discussion include, but are not limited to, deferred tuition payment, premium tuition for excess credit hours, guaranteed tuition rates for making specified progress toward a degree, need-based aid, a policy revision on mandatory fees, discounted summer tuition, and limiting the number of withdrawals.

  • Impact of General Education on RPG: A task force composed of faculty and academic administrators has been charged with reviewing the USG’s general education and core curriculum. The review is aimed at assessing how effectively the curriculum provides students with the opportunity to gain the necessary 21st century knowledge and skills. The task force also has been asked to assess the impact of the general education and core curriculum on RPG rates and to make policy and curricular recommendations to the board. The group is scheduled to present a preliminary report to the regents at the June 2006 board meeting.

  • Impact of Student Engagement: A committee of faculty and academic administrators has been assessing the results of the 2005 National Survey of Student Engagement and Community College Survey of Student Engagement. The group will present a report to the Board of Regents in February. The committee’s ultimate goal is to develop a set of recommendations on campus-based, student-related practices that improve retention, progression and graduation rates.

  • RPG Data Development and Mining: Papp also told the regents that every first-time, full-time freshman who entered the University System in Fall 2004 but did not return as a full-time student in Fall 2005 will be surveyed regarding why they did not return. A recent study of the University System’s graduation rates showed a direct correlation between graduation rates and high-school GPAs, as well as between graduation rates and SAT performance. It also showed six-year graduation rates to be higher (48 percent) for first-time, full-time freshmen who attend college immediately after high school than for those who delay their entry into college (27 percent).

“As you can see, many factors impact and influence retention, progression and graduation rates – ranging from family income to student behavior and policy decisions,” Papp said. “We are making good progress in identifying several measures that will enable us to improve our performance in these areas, thereby improving the overall quality of education in the University System of Georgia.”

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