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Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - 12:08pm

Feds Want 53% College Grad Rate in Georgia

Georgia colleges need to boost graduation rates to at least 53 percent by 2020, according to a new federal report. It’s the state’s share of an Obama administration goal for the U-S to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

Georgia had nearly a half-million college graduates in 2009 and a graduation rate of 35 percent. To meet the national goal, Georgia will need just over three-quarters of a million degree-holders.

“[A 53 percent graduation rate] is a very high goal, I’ll be honest about that, but I think it’s something that we need to do,” said Lynn Weisenbach, vice chancellor of the University System of Georgia. “So, it’s really a question of, what is it going to take to be able to meet that goal? Because that’s the kind of thing employers are going to look for and Georgia needs to be competitive.”

The Obama Administration’s College Completion Toolkit suggests seven strategies for state governors to increase college completion. Among them:

-- Tie state funding for colleges to graduation rates.
-- Make high schools better prepare students for college-level courses so students will spend less time in remedial classes at college.
-- Make it easier to transfer between schools. (The report says two-thirds of students attend at least two colleges and 20 percent attend three or more.)
-- Stabilize tuition costs.
-- Target adults with some college coursework but no degree.

Weisenbach said Georgia is already working on many of those strategies, including tying graduation rates to funding. The state’s Board of Regents has indicated it will explore linking the pay of college presidents’ to their success graduating students.

“The regents are taking that on,” Weisenbach said. “They’ve formed a retention, progression, completion task force. The presidents have all put forward very detailed plans around completion, and they’re being held accountable for those plans.”

Click here to read the entire report released this week by the Obama administration.

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