Are we moving to a two-tier higher ed system? Four-year colleges and technical schools?

UPDATE: Since I posted this earlier today, Georgia Perimeter College called to say it has updated the release to make it clearer. So, I am subbing in the new release as of 3:48 p.m. Friday.

Georgia Perimeter College posted a release on its website about tougher math requirements.

A Georgia Perimeter professor urged me to share the information as it has implications for students. The professor contends the changes will make it harder for Georgia high school graduates to gain access to the state’s public higher education system.

The professor’s concern: These actions move GPC further from the community college model and its emphasis on accessibility.

Georgia_Perimeter_LogoAnd the professor’s question to me: Are we moving to a public system in Georgia where there are only two real higher ed options: four-year colleges and universities and technical colleges with nothing in between?

Here is the updated GPC release so you can judge for yourself:

Several changes in learning support and admission policies kicked in at Georgia Perimeter College this fall.

Christopher Rednour, GPC’s director of Testing and Learning Support, says the changes are aimed at boosting the probability that students will graduate from college. “The end goal is to make sure that students persist and get their degree,” he explains.

For starters, there are higher scores used on standardized math tests in order to exempt Learning Support placement testing. Applicants seeking admission through standardized tests now may provide GPC with a minimum 500 on the math portion of the SAT or a 21 on the same section of the ACT for exemption from placement testing for admissions.

Previous standards stood at 440 and 18 respectively. Minimum scores to exempt placement testing for the SAT critical reading (480) and the ACT English (20) components are the same.

Cut-off scores for Move on When Ready (formerly Dual Enrollment) students also are unchanged from previous years.

Students who don’t meet the minimum SAT or ACT scores, as previously, must take the Computer Adaptive Placement Assessment and Support System (COMPASS) test — but with some changes in the way scores are assessed to determine if there is a need for additional skill building.

For example, a prospective student’s math score will be evaluated based on whether that student’s intended program of study (major) requires college algebra in order to move on to calculus. So, COMPASS scores will be interpreted differently for students pursuing majors in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and those in non-STEM majors. To exempt Learning Support placement for college algebra, STEM majors will need to score higher on the COMPASS algebra test than students whose majors require a non-algebra based mathematics course. This is to ensure that students get the appropriate support, if any is needed, for whatever math their major requires.

Jaishree Jani, Advising, Counseling and Retention Services, led a series of Learning Support information sessions on GPC’s Clarkston Campus this summer. She walked faculty and staff through a number of scenarios highlighting how the new COMPASS interpretations will impact students.

For example, she explained, a student could possibly “offset” a low English/Reading COMPASS score, but still gain admittance to the college if he or she has a high enough COMPASS algebra score.

Additional changes beginning this fall include new placement levels for Learning Support: Foundations classes, which are individual courses designed to assist students similar to the previous Learning Support courses, and Co-requisite courses. The latter allows students to receive learning support while also being enrolled in standard college courses (now called Gateway courses).

“The new Learning Support policies and procedures are designed to get students into their college classes faster, with the Co-requisite courses, while still offering the support and skill building the students need,” Jani says.

Other changes include adjustments in the number of attempts given to exit Learning Support.   Students now will have two attempts at the lowest placement level (Foundations), but will have unlimited attempts at the Co-requisite remediation level. It is expected that the majority of students requiring learning support will start at the Co-requisite level. Previously, students received three attempts to exit the entire area of learning support math, and two for English.

Students who don’t pass Foundations Learning Support within the attempt limit are placed on Learning Support exclusion and—as previously— are precluded from taking additional classes at Georgia Perimeter for a year. During this time, students can transfer to an accredited Technical College System of Georgia or private school.  In doing so the student can seek readmission without Learning Support requirements if they complete Learning Support at the Technical College System of Georgia school, or complete college algebra and composition and grammar at the private school, allowing them to return to GPC while also advancing towards their degree goals.

Reader Comments 0

40 comments
Tcope
Tcope

I thought the state missed an opportunity here. Why not make Perimeter College a 2 year school that feeds into Ga State. Something like Emory at Oxford/Emory in their relationship.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Tcope 

I think the Chancellor's original justification for the consolidation was to eliminate duplicate services, administration costs, programs, etc. Your proposal would still keep the individual institutions with all their individual expenses.


That said, I think that the faculty of both schools would prefer your suggestion.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

GPC called to say they have updated the news release. Here is what is now up:


Several changes in learning support and admission policies kicked in at Georgia Perimeter College this fall.

Christopher Rednour, GPC’s director of Testing and Learning Support, says the changes are aimed at boosting the probability that students will graduate from college. “The end goal is to make sure that students persist and get their degree,” he explains.

For starters, there are higher scores used on standardized math tests in order to exempt Learning Support placement testing. Applicants seeking admission through standardized tests now may provide GPC with a minimum 500 on the math portion of the SAT or a 21 on the same section of the ACT for exemption from placement testing for admissions.

Previous standards stood at 440 and 18 respectively. Minimum scores to exempt placement testing for the SAT critical reading (480) and the ACT English (20) components are the same.

Cut-off scores for Move on When Ready (formerly Dual Enrollment) students also are unchanged from previous years.

Students who don’t meet the minimum SAT or ACT scores, as previously, must take the Computer Adaptive Placement Assessment and Support System (COMPASS) test—but with some changes in the way scores are assessed to determine if there is a need for additional skill building.

For example, a prospective student’s math score will be evaluated based on whether that student’s intended program of study (major) requires college algebra in order to move on to calculus. So, COMPASS scores will be interpreted differently for students pursuing majors in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and those in non-STEM majors. To exempt Learning Support placement for college algebra, STEM majors will need to score higher on the COMPASS algebra test than students whose majors require a non-algebra based mathematics course. This is to ensure that students get the appropriate support, if any is needed, for whatever math their major requires.

Jaishree Jani, Advising, Counseling and Retention Services, led a series of Learning Support information sessions on GPC’s Clarkston Campus this summer. She walked faculty and staff through a number of scenarios highlighting how the new COMPASS interpretations will impact students.

For example, she explained, a student could possibly “offset” a low English/Reading COMPASS score, but still gain admittance to the college if he or she has a high enough COMPASS algebra score. 

Additional changes beginning this fall include new placement levels for Learning Support: Foundations classes, which are individual courses designed to assist students similar to the previous Learning Support courses, and Co-requisite courses. The latter allows students to receive learning support while also being enrolled in standard college courses (now called Gateway courses).

“The new Learning Support policies and procedures are designed to get students into their college classes faster, with the Co-requisite courses, while still offering the support and skill building the students need,” Jani says.

Other changes include adjustments in the number of attempts given to exit Learning Support. Students now will have two attempts at the lowest placement level (Foundations), but will have unlimited attempts at the Co-requisite remediation level. It is expected that the majority of students requiring learning support will start at the Co-requisite level. Previously, students received three attempts to exit the entire area of learning support math, and two for English.

Students who don’t pass Foundations Learning Support within the attempt limit are placed on Learning Support exclusion and—as previously— are precluded from taking additional classes at Georgia Perimeter for a year. During this time, students can transfer to an accredited Technical College System of Georgia or private school.  In doing so the student can seek readmission without Learning Support requirements if they complete Learning Support at the Technical College System of Georgia school, or complete college algebra and composition and grammar at the private school, allowing them to return to GPC while also advancing towards their degree goals.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

We have been a two tier forever.  The tech schools,with their efforts for  COC accreditation (rather than COE) from SACS have been moving us away from that direction.


In addition, Georgia has had few (3?)community colleges.  Dalton State is one of them.  A community college offers both diploma and degree programs. (see Florida for an example)


Students already admitted should HOLD THE COLLEGE's FEET TO THE FIRE re requirements, as  those they "came in on" are those that apply to them.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Wascatlady 

Inaccurate. The Tech Colleges, while state supported, are in a different category from the academic University System of Georgia (USG) schools. The USG has 12 state colleges, or "community colleges," that offer Associate's degrees. Dalton State is one of them. 


I'm not sure really what is meant by "two-tier." The USG has four categories of schools, all ranked according to the degree programs they offer. The top ranking, the 4 research universities, offer doctoral programs. Then there are the "comprehensive universities," the "state universities," and the "state colleges."  Schools can and do move upward in ranking as they offer more advanced degree programs.

http://www.usg.edu/regents/

Check under "USG Institutions" at the top for details.

Astropig
Astropig

@Wascatlady


Dalton State is really moving more and more toward 4 year focus. They now offer several Bachelors degrees (neighbor's kid is in one of them-nursing) and have built dorms. They were known as Dalton Junior College for a very long time, but now they are just Dalton College.They retain a lot of two year programs,but 4 year degrees will power their future.


They are the defending NAIA national basketball champions!


Astropig jr. went there (speaks highly of it) and transferred to GaSo.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Wascatlady 

P. S. In the case of present two-year GPC  students who came in under the lower admission requirements, the question is probably going to be what happens when they want to go on to GSU, which has higher admission requirements. It won't be an automatic sliding into GSU for them, but I think a separate admission process.

In fact, as I think about it, GPC is most likely upping their admission requirements now so that the new GPC students will meet the admission requirements of GSU after they've finished their 2-year stint there.


To my way of thinking, it's a messy consolidation of two different schools with different identities and cultures. The "Implementation Committee," with members from both schools, is settling all of these questions, and a lot more.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@OriginalProf @Wascatlady Those are the state of Georgia's classifications, however, and few of the technical schools fit the true community college (as understood nationally)classification, offering both technical certificate programs as well as two year programs and classes that articulate fully with the 4 year schools, with common course numbering and fully accepted credit.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Wascatlady @OriginalProf 

Thanks for explaining "two-tier." I agree that the technical colleges aren't "community colleges."  However, what the USG classifies as "state colleges" are what's usually called "community colleges," and that's what I've always heard them called. 


Ga. Regents policy allows the Core Curriculum courses offered at the technical colleges to transfer with credit to the academic USG schools, and that's the only connection I know about between them. GPC's new admission policy seems to be taking advantage of that rule.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

I want to re-post what liberal4life wrote, since it was the first and cut off without any way to reply and it was my thought too: "After they merge with GSU, it will be a 4 year school, won't it?"

I too wondered about the approaching Consolidation with GSU.  Someone needs to tell that GPC professor that his school is no longer a community college! 


I have heard reliably that GPC will become one of GSU's Colleges, like the College of Business or the College of Arts and Sciences. So this means that, yes, it would become part of a 4-year school. This could account for the higher standards now required for Math scores for GPC admittance as well as the other changes re. SAT and ACT scores.  As it is, their required scores have been lower than those required for admittance by GSU.


All in all, I think that the changes going on at GPC relate to their imminent consolidation with GSU, and don't portend anything more. Traditionally, the 2-year community colleges have been "feeders" to the 4-year colleges, and there are still quite a few of them left. The technical schools, necessary I think to education that is available for all Georgians, will continue as always.

redweather
redweather

@OriginalProf Faculty at GPC have been told many things about the consolidation, and about the place of what was once GPC in the new GSU. One of those things was that GPC's mission as an access institution wouldn't change. Although I found that hard to believe, I didn't think we would leave that behind quite so quickly.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@redweather @OriginalProf 

I've been told that GPC would become a college within GSU by two excellent on-the-scene sources.  I had originally heard that GPC students would have to apply for admission to GSU after they graduated from GPC within GSU, which seemed rather awkward. These latest changes reported in the GPC letter certainly sound to me as if GPC has done the "efficient" thing (or GSU has insisted on it) and raised its admission standards. There are still the other "access" 2-year schools in USG. 


Btw, on GSU's webpage at http://www.gsu.edu there is a link on the left side to "Consolidation" which gives the latest updates. Everything has to be finished up by Jan. 1, 2016.

liberal4life
liberal4life

@redweather @OriginalProf 

I guess Georgia Highlands is one, although I believe they have started a few 4-year programs.  Everyone wants to be UGA or GA Tech.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@liberal4life @redweather @OriginalProf 

Yes, Ga. Highlands is one of them. UGA and Ga. Tech (and Georgia State and Georgia Regents) are Tier One "Research Universities," and so designated because they have a full range of doctoral programs. 



OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@redweather @OriginalProf 

 These are the 12 "State Colleges."  They're termed "associate-level access institutions"  in the Mission Statement for these colleges. Check them out at the USG Regents web address I gave above.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@redweather @OriginalProf 

Some, but others are scattered all over the state (why they're called "State Colleges"). Just about every region of Georgia has one.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@liberal4life @redweather @OriginalProf 

Every one aspires to a higher tier, for the higher the tier the more state funding the school gets.  And the Tier Ones who have made it want to keep it, so they keep pressuring their faculty for the grants and published research.

redweather
redweather

@OriginalProf @redweather But the beauty of GPC was that it was accessible to tens of thousands of students in the metro area. It is unrealistic to think that these other schools around the state are a viable alternatives.

newsphile
newsphile

@redweather @OriginalProf There was a push years ago to have a two year college within an easy driving distance of every Georgian; I believe the goal was no more than an hour away.  Darton College in Albany and Bainbridge College are two in SW GA.  There should be a list  of all of them on the Board of Regents' website. 

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@newsphile @redweather @OriginalProf 

Ah yes, I remember.  Different Chancellor, different Governor, different budget. I think there's now a shrinkage going on, with more consolidations to come thanks to the present Chancellor who has said he intends to save money that way. (Darton and Bainbridge are State Colleges.)

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

Correction:  there aren't any 2-year schools in Ga., for all of the USG schools are 4-year schools. However, the State Colleges are considered "feeder" schools to the Universities, so that a student may transfer after 2 years of taking the basic Core courses and finish at one of the 4-year Universities.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@redweather @OriginalProf 

I see your point about CC students, for this consolidation does eliminate the separate GPC with its 5 campuses. But how is the state "shunting ...students who want a liberal arts education...into the technical college system"?  I don't follow you.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@redweather @OriginalProf 

This is an ongoing System-wide process. It began, as I recall, around 2000 when then-Chancellor Porsche (I can never spell his name!) decided that the "access" schools should be teaching the Remedial courses, and took them out of the Research Universities (only these courses were then called "Foundation" courses). I at once felt the difference in my classes, for those remedial students took regular classes at the same time. And the Regents has followed suit. 

This seems to be what GPC is going through right now as well, with its change in admission standards....all sped up, of course, by joining a research university with a President ambitious to make it one of the country's premier public research universities, on a par with Boston University, as he has often said. 



redweather
redweather

@OriginalProf @redweather The point is that CC students in Georgia have a much smaller so-called safety net when it comes to balancing school and survival.  In my opinion, Georgia is short-changing students who want a liberal arts education by making it increasingly difficult for them to pursue such an eduation. Our state is shunting them into the technical college system.  The ultimate irony, when we think about the consolidation of GPC and GSU, is that Mark Becker--the million dollar man at GSU--attended a community college.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@redweather @OriginalProf 

I understand what you meant now. But there are many other CCs (11 of them), though most not in Atlanta, that have not yet raised their admission standards. Quite a few of them have the same or lower admission standards as GPC had, though considerably higher than that of the technical colleges.


Perhaps GPC will not be the same sort of "access institution" as before, but there are still some others in Georgia.

straker
straker

This goes along with the fact that more and more jobs now require good math aptitude.


Unfortunately, the overall math aptitude of our population is not increasing.


This spells nothing but real trouble for our current and future employment numbers.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

We will rue the day if we ever take enlightenment from part of the reason for achieving a college degree. Higher learning cannot be all about skills.  We must learn, also, to question why we are on this planet, what our relationship is to one another and to all life, and how can we help to bring lasting peace to this planet.  To achieve these things, we must know ourselves and others in great depth.

TaxiSmith
TaxiSmith

We have so devalued the high school diploma (the state even retroactively awarded diplomas to former students who had failed the earn one; whoopee, everyone gets a trophy) that college degrees are now required for jobs that, even ten years ago, went to high school graduates. I believe we have too many people in college. I taught a freshman history class at a local college (yes, in the University System of Georgia) and was truly disheartened to see the total lack of interest in the "students." These were people who will gain nothing from a college education but a piece of paper, if they're lucky.

Looking4truth
Looking4truth

@TaxiSmith  I agree - as a society, we've devalued education overall.  Hence the requirement to have a master's or higher degree to get a high paying job.  Education for its own sake is no longer enough.  We now require "goals" and push "degrees" as the only way to high paying jobs.


I'm sad to hear they are increasing the scores in math.  Many students will be left out of higher education.  Of course, the technical school grads will still be able to charge $60 an hour to snake a drain or install a ceiling fan and make a pretty good living doing it. 

jarvis1975
jarvis1975

@TaxiSmith By percent, of industrialized nations we have the 13th most college graduates. The world is leaving your opinion behind.

Astropig
Astropig

@Looking4truth @TaxiSmith


"Of course, the technical school grads will still be able to charge $60 an hour to snake a drain or install a ceiling fan and make a pretty good living doing it. "


If you ask any plant manger,site operator or shift superintendent, they will tell you that dependable workers with those practical skills are in desperately short supply. Emphasis on dependable. Real craftsmen are becoming an elite that command the type of pay that can give them a solid middle class life while they practice their trade and a comfortable retirement when they learn the business side of things and start their own firm.

liberal4life
liberal4life

After they merge with GSU, it will be a 4 year school, won't it?