Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Increased Graduation at Colleges Still a Goal; Deal Joins Past Leaders in Pushing for More Grads to Fill Future Job Openings

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Increased Graduation at Colleges Still a Goal; Deal Joins Past Leaders in Pushing for More Grads to Fill Future Job Openings

Article excerpt

Byline: Walter C. Jones

ATLANTA When Gov. Nathan Deal announced that boosting college-graduation rates was a goal of his administration, he joined a long line of public officials grasping for a solution to a nagging problem.

Fewer than half of the freshmen beginning class this month at four-year public colleges across the state will graduate in the next six years, based on long-standing trends. Those entering two-year colleges will fare worse. Just one-fourth of them will collect a sheep's skin.

National figures are similar to Georgia's.

"Completion numbers are not that good in Georgia. They're not that good across the country," said Stan Jones, president of the Complete College America foundation.

Most of those who wash out of college weren't prepared for it. The more remedial courses a student is required to take, the greater the likelihood of flunking out.

Remedial courses essentially mean students repeat high school despite having graduated.

These college freshmen are the ones who have surpassed their classmates at high school where one-third never earned a baccalaureate diploma.

Georgia passed a law granting a sort of money-back guarantee on high school diplomas. It was a gimmicky way of promising employers that any graduate they hired would be adequately educated. The Board of Regents could save a bundle by claiming that guarantee.

The Board of Education toughened high school curriculum and eliminated the general diploma that many kids pursued instead of the more challenging college-prep avenue. But still colleges are having to re-teach high school courses to graduates.

To try it a different way, Deal got a $1 million grant to develop online remedial courses so students can study at their own pace. That borrows from the successful dropout-prevention program developed by Communities In Schools for middle-schoolers. …

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