Athens Technical College to receive grant funds from Complete College America
Athens Technical College and three other colleges in Georgia will receive funding to redesign learning support coursework as part of a $1 million grant from Complete College America.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced Thursday that Georgia is one of 10 states to be awarded $1 million from Complete College America to fuel policy innovations and reforms aimed at significantly increasing college completion. In making the announcement, the governor also introduced his Complete College Georgia initiative.
“By 2018, more than 60 percent of job openings in Georgia will require some form of postsecondary education,” Gov. Deal said. “To meet this demand, we must increase the number of students with access to higher education and ensure that these students graduate with postsecondary degrees in a timely manner."
Gov. Deal added, “My Complete College Georgia Initiative provides concrete steps to address both access and completion. We know this problem is significant: Less than a quarter of full-time students at two-year colleges ever graduate and only 44 percent at four-year colleges get their degree within six years.”
Athens Technical College will join DeKalb Technical College, the College of Coastal Georgia, and Georgia Gwinnett College to pilot innovative remediation programs. The programs will require students to complete technology-based diagnostic assessments to determine the level of remediation required for each student. The innovation will incorporate modularized remediation coursework in which students work at an individualized pace. It will also provide students with opportunities to enroll simultaneously in college-level course and diagnostic-based learning support.
The governor added that successful aspects of these pilot programs will then be scaled to all University System and Technical College System institutions across the state.
Gov. Deal’s Complete College Georgia Initiative calls for the Technical College System of Georgia and the University System of Georgia to submit comprehensive system-wide completion plans to the governor by January 1, 2012. All colleges within the two systems must submit their completion plans to the governor by July 1, 2012.
The initiative also calls for at least five programs within the Technical College System of Georgia to be restructured to better support students who work while attending college and for the creation of a true seamless education system that allows students to transfer with ease between member institutions of the two systems in order to complete their postsecondary educational goals.
The Complete College Georgia Initiative also calls for the creation of a needs-based scholarship program targeted to low-income middle school students with college potential and provide them with support through high school. Students who complete the program would receive a tuition scholarship. Gov. Deal stated in the Thursday press conference that he is aggressively pursuing private partners to assist with seed funding for this aspect of the initiative.
Gov. Deal also used the press conference to announce the formation of a Higher Education Finance Commission that will focus on higher education funding, particularly examining ways to change the funding formula to incentivize completion.
Georgia is one of 10 states to win the $1 million Completion Innovation Challenge grant. Thirty-three states applied for the 18 month implementation grants for innovative, high-impact college completion initiatives designed to enhance student success and close attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations. Georgia’s application focused on restructuring remediation programs.
Complete College America received funding support for the grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Gov. Deal gets it: Doing more of the same will not boost student success or get Georgia the additional college graduates it must have to be competitive,” said Complete College America President Stan Jones. “Georgia’s innovative pilot program promises to significantly increase college completion, saving students precious time and money—and giving taxpayers more of what they expect from their hard-earned investments in higher education: college graduates.”
The Complete College Georgia Initiative is an important piece of Gov. Deal’s broader Georgia Competitiveness Initiative.
“The funding provided by the Complete College America grant will allow our college to implement some of the initiatives we have been contemplating as we have started to look at barriers to student success as part of our commitment to Achieving the Dream,“ said Dr. Flora Tydings, president of Athens Technical College.
Athens Technical College is the first institution in Georgia to participate in Achieving the Dream, a national effort focused on bold solutions to help more community college students succeed, particularly students of color and low-income students. Achieving the Dream works on multiple fronts — including efforts on campuses and in research, public engagement and public policy — and emphasizes the use of data to drive change.
Launched as an initiative in 2004 with funding provided by Lumina Foundation for Education, Achieving the Dream is built on the belief that broad institutional change, informed by student achievement data, is critical to significantly improving student success rates. Today, Achieving the Dream’s network includes 130 institutions in 24 states and the District of Columbia, impacting 1.6 million students.
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