IBJNews

Ivy Tech system high in grads, low in graduation rates

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Ivy Tech Community College ranks first among two-year educational institutions nationwide for the number of associate degrees it awards, the college announced Monday.

However, Indiana's community college system, already grappling with a $68 million deficit, is facing scrutiny over its graduation rates as it works to shore up its role as the linchpin needed to close the state's skilled-worker gap.

Ivy Tech said an annual study by Community College Week ranked it tops in degrees conferred, with 8,940 awarded in the 2011-12 academic years, an increase of 12 percent over the previous year.

Despite the high number of degrees, many more students are failing to obtain the diploma in a desired amount of time, critics say.

Just 4 percent of students at Ivy Tech graduate within two years and only 23 percent earn diplomas in six years, according to state data. And that's making state officials wary of pumping more money into the system if the results don't improve.

"Is it a funding issue, or is it a completion issue?" said Marilee Springer, Gov. Mike Pence's senior policy director. "We can keep driving money in, but that money needs to lead to degree completion. I don't know if more funding is the answer."

Ivy Tech leaders dispute the calculations, saying the state only counts "first-time, full-time" students - which Ivy Tech administrators say is not representative of the student body.

Ivy Tech says it guides about half of its students toward "success" within six years — but that definition includes students who haven't completed degrees.

President Tom Snyder acknowledges that there's room for improvement and that Ivy Tech falls behind similar institutions across the country.

"Are we doing this as well as we can as a system?" Snyder asked. "No."

But he contends that reduced funding will translate into fewer degrees.

Ivy Tech plans to redesign remediation programs, create clearer paths to graduation and establish more one-year accelerated programs. The American Association of Community Colleges is also developing a "voluntary framework of accountability" to gauge community colleges' performances.

Education advocates say that's only a start.

"The first part of fixing a problem is, let's look at the problem we've got and not be defensive about it," said Cheryl Orr Dixon, senior vice president and chief of staff of Complete College America. "We are not patient with people who want to explain away data."

Complete College America and the Lumina Foundation, which found Indiana ranked last in six-year completion rates for students at public two-year institutions, both agree students are at a higher risk of dropping out if they take six years to finish a two-year degree. The groups support encouraging students to take full-time class loads when possible. That often means colleges need to make their classes available at better times.

"Some students perhaps need to go part-time, but going part-time is highly correlated with never finishing," said Jim Applegate, Lumina's vice president of strategic impact.

Snyder, the Ivy Tech president, said state leaders are ignoring the impact of funding on completion rates. Ivy Tech is considering closing a quarter of its facilities and is weighing administrative and staff layoffs to help close its $68 million budget gap.

"There's a lag in understanding both at the general assembly level in each state and at the federal level that I think will need to be addressed," he said.

Teresa Lubbers, Indiana's commissioner for higher education, said the numbers have to change.

"We're nowhere close to where we need to be with completion," Lubbers said. "I think all this means turning upside-down the delivery of education at the community college, based on not what the institution has been doing in the past but what the student needs now. These are stubborn numbers to move. We have to be willing to try multiple new ways to do this."

ADVERTISEMENT

  • IVY Tech and Adjunct Instructors
    The issues with IVY Tech are many. Adjuncts that are the primary instructors instead of full-time faculty, commuter schools not close to the student populations. Numbers are meaningless with IVY Tech being the largest Community College system if they don't act like one and have so many students taking remedial courses just to catch up with the 4 year college requirements on Math, Science, English, Communications, etc. The administration of IVY Tech is overpayed for what they produce. A six year 50 percent rate for a 2 year school is unacceptable. If this were a four year school, would a 12 year 50 percent B.S. rate be acceptable. The purpose of a 2 year degree is 2 years, 3 at most, then a job. Perhaps the state needs to revisit this and return the 2 year degree prorams to the state schools, Purdue, IU, Ball State, IUPUI, Indiana State, and fold IVY Tech into their control, eliminate the current IVY Tech administration and have real Universities with full time instructors run it.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. The deductible is entirely paid by the POWER account. No one ever has to contribute more than $25/month into the POWER account and it is often less. The only cost not paid out of the POWER account is the ER copay ($8-25) for non-emergent use of the ER. And under HIP 2.0, if a member calls the toll-free, 24 hour nurse line, and the nurse tells them to go to the ER, the copay is waived. It's also waived if the member is admitted to the hospital. Honestly, although it is certainly not "free" - I think Indiana has created a decent plan for the currently uninsured. Also consider that if a member obtains preventive care, she can lower her monthly contribution for the next year. Non-profits may pay up to 75% of the contribution on behalf of the member, and the member's employer may pay up to 50% of the contribution.

  2. I wonder if the governor could multi-task and talk to CMS about helping Indiana get our state based exchange going so Hoosiers don't lose subsidy if the court decision holds. One option I've seen is for states to contract with healthcare.gov. Or maybe Indiana isn't really interested in healthcare insurance coverage for Hoosiers.

  3. So, how much did either of YOU contribute? HGH Thank you Mr. Ozdemir for your investments in this city and your contribution to the arts.

  4. So heres brilliant planning for you...build a $30 M sports complex with tax dollars, yet send all the hotel tax revenue to Carmel and Fishers. Westfield will unlikely never see a payback but the hotel "centers" of Carmel and Fishers will get rich. Lousy strategy Andy Cook!

  5. AlanB, this is how it works...A corporate welfare queen makes a tiny contribution to the arts and gets tons of positive media from outlets like the IBJ. In turn, they are more easily to get their 10s of millions of dollars of corporate welfare (ironically from the same people who are against welfare for humans).

ADVERTISEMENT