Complete College America wants to increase graduation rates by 60 percent

Complete College America, is looking to adopt up to five changes to the education system in the state of Texas to increase graduation rates. These could take place as soon as the 2013-14 academic year.

The state of Texas has had an increase in graduation rates, but Complete College America says that it is not enough.

Complete College America is a national non-profit organization with a mission to increase the number of young adults with a degree. The ultimate focus is not on the grades the students make, but on whether or not they are graduating and how long it is taking to do so. The degree, in their mind, does all the talking.

They believe that it is necessary to implement a few changes seen in their plan called “Close the gap” and/or game changersto complete their mission. They say that the state should shift funding, raise expectations, restructure programs and reward innovation (in the institution), in order to increase graduation rates. Texas is one of 32 states that have adopted some of their ideas.

The first step would be to set a goal. Complete College America hopes to get up to 60% of young adults graduated by 2015. For the past 12 years The College for All Texans foundation has paid Complete College America to conduct research on the Texas education system to see what Texas could do to improve the graduation rates.

One area being discussed is possibly changing pre-requisite remedial courses into “co-requisite” remedial courses. As of right now there are free services such as tutoring that are not necessarily required. If taking a remedial class along with a college level class that relates to it was required students could earn credits that coincide with their degree plan. The success rate for pre-requisite is low.

“Having pre-requisite remediation is almost completely unsuccessful,” senior director of external relations at THECB Dominic Chavez said. “Time is of the essence.”

Students who do not test high enough on SATs or ACTs must take remedial courses. Upon completion of those courses, which cost money, students do not receive college credit. With rising tuition, not many people can afford to take classes that are not a necessity.

Many students end up taking remedial courses, failing, becoming discouraged and ultimately drop out. The dropout rate for Texas is currently 62%.

With co-requisite, students will be able to take college level courses upon entry, but with a remedial tutorials or computer labs as a requirement. This means that new coming students would be able to take, for example, the math 032 class concurrently with a college level class.

Currently, students must file a degree plan within 45 hours entry to college to keep financial aid. Complete College America wants to lower the amount of hours a student can take before being made to declare a major.

Statistically, up to 142 credits are being applied when a student’s degree plan only calls for 120. Complete College America’s goal is to decrease the amount of money being unnecessarily spent.

In addition, students would be given an academic advisor before they get to 45 hours. One would be allowed to change their major, but not without consulting an advisor to have the students thinking clearly early on.

A topic that has been up in the air is increasing the minimum number of credit hours being taken to receive financial aid. The current requirement is 12 hours. Complete College America is looking to change that requirement to 15 hours to be eligible. The issue is not being discussed yet, but it is a potential idea.

50% of students are only enrolled part-time. Some people have to work a job in order to afford college. As years go by, students usually decrease the hours they take. There is a trend where the longer students stay in college; the less likely they are to graduate. Complete College America wants to implement “block scheduling” to help the dropout rate. For example: Classes would only be scheduled 8 û 1 p.m. every day for a more reliable schedule.

“The game changer strategies to significantly boost college completion and close attainment gaps are proven,” Tom Sugar, senior vice-president of Complete College America said. “Now is the time for Texas to turn a decade of good intentions into comprehensive action across every campus to help students succeed.”

Deborah Phelps, Ph.D., a Sam Houston State University English professor, said, “We need more daylight…if people knew how far the cuts went, there would be a lot more attention being paid to writing our senators and calling themà”

As a professor, she was not aware of any changes looking to be made that are being debated in Texas legislature. Less funding for the school, would mean less funding for the professors.

There is not much coverage on the topic. Many students are unaware of the changes as well.

Bryan Hood, a junior accounting major at Sam Houston said, “I don’t know that those things would work. I also did not know that something like this was being planned,” Hood said.

There has not been much talk about the subject to the general public, and there may not be any press releases, but if any changes are made, the affected institutions will be notified. New coming students would be affected by the changes implemented; current students will be omitted.

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