Georgia > Tech School Grads Rising

| June 7, 2015

Education

ATLANTA — The number of graduates from the Technical College System of Georgia increased in 2014 for the first time since 2011, but enrollment and the number of credit hours taught dropped for the third straight year.

Also, the number of GED graduates continued a six-year slide, according to a draft of the system’s annual report provided to the Times-Union. The most recent year reported is 2014.

System administrators say a number of efforts launched in recent years are helping students graduate.

“These kinds of initiatives make us more efficient,” said Joe Dan Baker, executive director of academic affairs.

Among the initiatives was consultation with employers to see what components are no longer necessary to job success, which has allowed the system to cut required hours for its degrees.

Another program integrates tutoring with for-credit courses like math and writing rather than making students take discrete remedial courses.

Additionally, counselors now register students for all the courses at one time that they’ll need to take over their college careers to gain the degree they’re seeking. That keeps them on track and avoids unnecessary courses.

Systems in other states have taken similar steps since 2009 when President Barack Obama challenged colleges to get 65 percent of the adult population to earn some type of degree after high school, says Susan Campbell-Lounsbury, the editor of the Fact Book on Higher Education at the Southern Regional Education Board. She said Georgia’s leaders promised that these shortcuts won’t water down the education students get.

Enrollment figures at the state’s technical colleges peaked in 2010 at 197,000 and have been dropping since. Critics blame the decline on tougher standards that year in the HOPE Grant program that pays tuition for top-performing students.

Baker discounted that idea. He said a shift from a quarter calendar to semesters accounted for much of it, as it has in other college systems. At the same time, improvement in the economy has meant likely students have taken jobs instead.

Florida Times Union

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