graduation rates at Ohio’s public universities a priority for Gov. John
Chancellor Jim Petro
January 23, 2012
Ohio -- Ohio’s public four-year colleges don’t have a problem
students, but keeping them enrolled long enough to get a degree
pose a challenge.
percent of students who enrolled full time as freshmen in 2004 had
degrees six years later, according to the Ohio Board of Regents. That’s
about the national average.
and graduating more students is a top priority for Gov. John Kasich and
Chancellor Jim Petro, the head of the state’s higher-education system.
told the Ohio Board of Regents last week that he plans to implement
programs this year -- even if university officials oppose them.
there has to be a motivational weakness that causes a student to start
and not finish,” Petro said. “The notion is to give recognition at
of the program.”
a pilot project giving students a Certificate of Career Readiness if
attend college for one year and pass a standardized test. That would
if they leave school and look for a job, Petro said.
years of study, a qualified student would receive an associate degree,
community-college students, who often work or have family obligations,
offered year-round block scheduling in their academic area. For
could attend school from 8 a.m. to noon five days a week for 18 months
receive an associate degree.
I wake up and wonder, ‘What can we do to get more degrees and complete
degrees?’ “ Petro told the regents. “Only 36 percent or 37 percent of
have two- or four-year degrees. Ohio’s economic fortune is tied to our
In a recent
meeting with Plain Dealer editors and reporters, he said he has told
leaders to make a pledge to students.
enroll students without being committed to graduating them,” the
the regents that while many factors affect whether a student graduates,
colleges have to address what he considers the main barriers.
is time,” he said. “The longer it takes, the less likely someone will
degree. Next is choice. We are giving students too many choices.”
said schools have to make it clearer to students how to achieve a
is the deal -- not the major,” the chancellor said.
he plans to implement his “Roadmap to Success” first as pilot programs
Central State University and Shawnee State University, the public
the lowest graduation rates. He was ordered last year by the state
which provides financial supplements to those two institutions, to
plans for the schools to improve.
to expand the program to other universities with low graduation rates,
including Cleveland State University and the University of Akron.
President Ronald Berkman and University of Akron President Luis Proenza
said they believe the benchmark to measure graduation rates is flawed
it is based on first-time full-time freshmen students. Most of their
attend part-time, drop out and return, or transfer in.
acknowledge that they want more students to graduate. Their
others across the state, are implementing numerous programs to address
issue, including a method that allows students to track their academic
and intensive advising through which students are contacted weekly to
they are on track for a degree.
Berkman and Proenza said Petro’s ideas have merit.
“A lot of
four-year universities think associate degrees mean they have lower
but in the sense it will give [students] a milestone, it is fantastic,”
said of awarding a degree after two years of study.
said CSU plans to initiate several programs this fall to improve
aimed at eliminating what he calls the “crapshoot of registering for
freshmen will have block programming, classes scheduled in blocks of
specific days, such as Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, he said.
addition, all students will be able to register for a full academic
classes in the fall, making CSU the first school in the state to offer
option, Berkman said.
guarantee them the courses and allow them to choose more
said. “We are doing everything we can to help the kids understand what
have to do to graduate.”
Community College President Jerry Sue Thornton said Petro plans to meet
community-college leaders today. She expects a focus on retention and
offers scheduling so students can arrange classes for mornings,
evenings but has not offered the courses in blocks tied to specific
programs, which Petro is proposing, she said.
wants to do is take clusters or schedules and advertise it as a block,”
said. “You can sit down with the student and map it out. It is a great
and we have the structure to do it.”
said graduation rates at community colleges are traditionally low
students attend part time and need more than two years to complete a
coming year we are working with every student on a life plan,” she
are asking them, ‘Where do you want to end up?’ and determining what is
pathway to get there.”
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