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Federal Requiremnet 4.1

NOTE: Please be advised that some information may not be available from within the SACS 2010 Accreditation Report website as links and content may have moved since the report was created. Contact information may have also changed. 


FR 4.1. The institution evaluates success with respect to student achievement including, as appropriate, consideration of course completion, state licensing examinations, and job placement rates.

_X___ Compliance   _____ Partial Compliance ____ Non-Compliance

Judgment of Compliance

GCSU is in compliance with this standard and can provide evidence through the narrative and supporting documentation that it evaluates success with respect to student achievement in relation to the mission of Georgia College & State University.


GCSU evaluates student achievement through course completion data, state licensing examination results, job placement rates, employer surveys, alumni surveys, and other sources. The University System of Georgia Board of Regents also compiles system-wide data, including a breakdown by institution, on degree program completion by discipline and retention rates. 

Program enrollment, course completion, and graduation data are produced each year by the Office of Institutional Research and analyzed for improvement in required reports for the institution and University System of Georgia by departments, colleges, and divisions.  These reports are shared with administrators, faculty and the public through the Office of Institutional Effectiveness web site.

Course Completion Rates

Course completion rates are available locally in the GCSU PAWS database.  Grade distributions for each course are available and may be reported by individual instructor or all sections, and by term or a summary across several terms.  These reports may be used by department chairs in annual evaluations of faculty, in tenure and promotion decisions, and/or for planning purposes.  A sample screen shot of a grade distribution report is included in the documentation.  A study of course completion rates led GCSU in 2007 to impose a limit of 5 Ws for any student during the course of their studies. 

GCSU also tracks course completion rates as a result of the need to evaluate student success as a component of its participation in Title IV federal programs. GCSU was approved for re-certification for eligibility to participate in Title IV Student Aid Programs in 2008 (letter of certification included as documentation).  Approval was based on confirmation (electronic re-certification process) of GCSU's academic and administrative capability, as required by 34 CFR, Part 600, Subpart A, and 34 CFR, Part 668.16, Sec 498(a) of Title IV).  In compliance with Title IV federal programs, the GCSU Financial Aid Office monitors student achievement of financial-aid recipients.  Periodic reviews through state and internal audit demonstrate GCSU is correctly tracking satisfactory academic progress and official withdrawals.

The GCSU Financial Aid Office monitors student achievement of financial aid recipients according to standards specified in its Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy (included as documentation).  To continue to be eligible for financial aid, students must demonstrate academic progress by completing a specific number of credit hours relative to hours attempted.  

GCSU monitors enrollment status of all students according to an official withdrawal policy.  Student class attendance is used to confirm enrollment.  Faculty members report student attendance at the end of the first week.   Students who missed all class meetings in the first week of a given course will have their financial aid adjusted to reflect correct aid disbursement for the actual number of credit hours they attended.  Students who stop attending a course will have the last date of attendance entered into their student record for that course.  Periodic state and internal audit reviews for financial aid (see GCSU response to FR 4.7 and CS 3.10.3) demonstrate that GCSU is correctly tracking both satisfactory academic progress and official withdrawal rates.

Degree Progress/Completion Rates

Degree progress/completion rates are arguably a more important indicator of student achievement for universities than course completion rates.  Degree progress rates are tracked on a system-wide level by institution and discipline (see results of 2006. 2007, and 2008). The University System of Georgia also reports graduation and retention rates for particular cohorts.  Programs track degree completion rates in their annual reports at GCSU and in Comprehensive Program Reviews required by the University System of Georgia as an indicator of viability and effectiveness.  Annual Reports and CPRs are available through the Office of Institutional Effectiveness Web Site 

State Licensing Examinations and Pass Rates

GCSU tracks licensure rates and records them in departmental Annual Reports, maintains files in the testing center, and posts results on the appropriate college web sites and on Office of Institutional Effectiveness web site.  State licensure sites also often post results.  GCSU results include: 

The College of Education had the following overall licensure passing rates on the GACE exam from FY 2006-2009: FY2006 = 99%; FY2007 = 97%; FY2008 = 98%.

The Nursing program had the following overall NCLEX pass rates from FY 2006-2009: 2006 = 96%; Fall 2007 = 94; 2008 = 96%.  These rates are among the highest rates in Georgia.

The College of Business had the following CPA pass rates: Over the past four years the proportion of GCSU students who passed some part of the exam exceeds the national average over that same time period (40% of GCSU students as compared to 35% on national level).


Job Placement and Graduate School Acceptance Rates

GCSU requires departments and divisions to complete an annual report. Departments and units must provide graduation, enrollment, and job placement data in their annual review of program effectiveness and viability (See GCSU Academic Affairs Handbook 3.05.03 for the annual report template).


Annual reports produced by GCSU departments feed into periodic comprehensive program reviews, required by the University System of Georgia for all ISG Institutions every seven years for undergraduate programs and every ten years for graduate programs or according to the cycles of discipline-specific external accreditation review boards provided that this does not exceed ten years. GCSU CPRs are used for progressive improvement and adjustment of programs in the context of the institution's strategic plans.  GCSU requires programs to include reference to post-graduate success rates of students.  Selected examples appear in the documentation. 

Enrollments in graduate programs and graduation rates for GCSU students are tracked through the National Student Clearinghouse. The most recent data from the NSC for GCSU graduates is provided in the documentation folder (grad degrees awardedand attended another institution post-graduation).  From 1999-2006, the NSC shows 992 GCSU graduates enrolling in graduate programs at GCSU or elsewhere, and 202 GCSU graduates receiving graduate degrees from GCSU or other institutions.  Information collected here is supplemented by local surveys, as described below. 

The College of Education (CoE) receives reports on job placement through the Georgia Department of Education and boasts of one of the highest workforce retention rates for its graduates in the state.  The rates below do not include those who go on to graduate school or those who teach in private schools or in schools outside of Georgia. 

2006- 83.7 % GCSU CoE 2005 graduates entered the workforce in Georgia

  • Retention in the workforce: in 2007, 86.6 % GCSU CoE 2005 graduates were still in or newly entered the workforce in Georgia

2007 - 85.2 % GCSU CoE 2006 graduates entered the workforce in GA. See documentation for further details. 


Information from Surveys


The GCSU Office of Institutional Research tracks job placement and graduate school acceptance rates through an online survey administered to graduates and through membership in a national data clearinghouse (initiated 2009).  Prior to 2009, the survey was administered by hand to graduates. 

Several programs also track job placement and graduate school acceptances through graduation surveys, employer surveys, and/or alumni surveys.  Professional programs, in particular, also rely upon employer surveys to track competencies of graduates in the job force.  Results of these surveys are posted on the Office of Institutional Effectiveness web site.  Among the surveys administered by GCSU programs are:

The College of Education administers the Education Graduate Student Satisfaction Survey and also an Employer Survey.

Programs in The College of Health Sciences, such as Nursing, Outdoor Education and Music Therapy, administer a survey to graduates upon graduation, again at one year and five years post-graduation, and also to employers one year post-graduation. Completed samples are included in the supporting documentation.

Since 2008 The College of Business has administered a survey during the spring semester to graduating seniors. 

Several individual departments, such as Psychology, administer exit surveys to students designed to collect job placement or graduate school acceptance data.  See the results of the sample Psychology exit survey contained in Appendix 5 of their annual report from 2007-2008 (available from the Office of Institutional Effectiveness Web Site).   

In addition to official university surveys, The College of Business and several departments in other colleges unofficially track job placement data through contacts in Facebook.  

GCSU is working to improve its process of gleaning relevant job placement data.   


Use of Data for Improvement

Examples of the use of data for curricular improvement include the following:  

Curricular modification in response to surveys:

  • o In the College of Education, the focus of most of the M.Ed. programs has shifted to School Improvement in response to graduate and employer survey data.  Positive feedback on that improvement from employers has led to a similar change in the Ed.S. programs in Curriculum and Instruction.  

Curricular modification in response to licensure results:

  • o A slight decline in GACE sub-scores related to IEP knowledge and development led the College of Education to arrange with an outside contractor for free use of IEP software for five years.  The relevant sub-scores subsequently rose with later groups who had used the software.
  • o Modifications to the curriculum have been made based on results of subscores on licensure exams.  In October 2003, The School of Nursing Educational Effectiveness Committee reported data from 1 and 5 year graduate surveys indicated graduates perceived a need for more content about pharmacology during their nursing education. In January of 2004 a pharmacology course was approved by the College of Health Sciences Curriculum Committees and slated to begin Fall 2004. In April of 2004, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing made some significant changes to the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses) based on the practice analysis. One such change was as increase in the percentage of questions on the category labeled Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies. The information from the practice analysis and subsequent changes to the NCLEX-RN gave additional validity to the data from our graduates.   At present, subscores on the Pharmacology and Parenteral Therapies have increased from an average of 973 prior to the implementation to a score of 1017.  Additional increases have been found on related pharmacology principles such as medication administration (934 before and 967 after; P=.41) and medication math (938 before and 1103 after; P=.002).


Institutional response/program curricular modifications in response to course completion rates:

  • o GCSU has conducted two internal studies (2005-2006 and 2006-2007) on retention issues related to course and degree completion rates.  Among the areas of focus were the required English composition sequence and mathematics courses in the core curriculum.  A plan of action was developed in response to issues related to course completion in the core and to overall degree completion rates. 
  • o A careful study of grade distributions over the last four years suggested that a required Genetics course as a potential cause of biology students leaving the major. During that time over 300 students had taken the course and the average DFW rate was approximately 45% (significantly higher than any other course in the department). The department chair and faculty implemented different teaching techniques and added a supplemental peer instructor (a student who already received an A in the course who would meet with students every week outside of class time to go over the material covered that week).  As a result, the DFW rate in fall 2005 was only ten percent (compared to an average of 45% the previous four years). The department continued to monitor this course carefully to see if modifications improved retention rate for biology majors.
  • o Low graduation rates for the MA in history, largely due to those failing to complete the thesis requirement, led the program to implement additional required 6000 level seminars and to require thesis contracts for students in fall 2005.  In 2006 the number of graduates increased by 1 for a total of 4 and remained constant in 2007.  Numbers dipped again in 2008.   
  • o Large numbers of Ds, Fs, and Ws in MATH 2600 (Area D course) led the Math department to impose a requirement of a C in AREA A Math courses in 2005.  As a result, there was a dramatic decrease in the percentages of Ds, Fs, and Ws:

the DFW rate for Math 2600 over the four years prior (2001-2005) to implementation of the new prerequisite was 36.9%.

DFW rate for MATH 2600 for the four years (2005-2009) after implementing new prerequisite was 23.4%.

DFW rate for MATH 2600 for the two years prior (2003-2005) to implementing the prerequisite was 38.3%.

DFW rate for MATH 2600 for two years (2005-2007) after implementation of the prerequisite was 26.4%.  This declined to 20.2% in 2007-2009. 


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