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2011 October 31 - 12:00 am

S. Idaho College Working To Boost Graduation Rates

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) — The College of Southern Idaho is working to boost graduation rates in the wake of a recent report that found less than 20 percent of first-time students who enroll at the Twin Falls school earn a degree within three years.

College President Jerry Beck acknowledged there is room for improvement following the report last week from Complete College America, a national campaign created to battle dismal college completion rates and boost the number of Americans with degrees.

The report found the College of Southern Idaho had the state’s worst graduation rate for full-time students at 18 percent.

“When we look at this graduation rate, there’s no question that we need to graduate more students than we do,” Beck told the Times-News.

But officials also contend the graduation rate is not an accurate measure of what goes on at the community college, where fewer than 1,000 of the total 8,700 students enrolled go to class full-time. To compare the southern Idaho college’s graduation rates to that of other campuses is like “comparing apples to oranges” because CSI has so many part-time students, said Cesar Perez, director of the college’s advising center.

Many students are also parents who have jobs or limited funding to continue their education and are unable attend classes full-time, Perez said.

The school is offering classes on Saturdays as part of a plan to improve graduation rates. The college also recently received a grant to help students enrolled in a campus adult basic education program transition into taking regular college classes.

About 2,000 students are enrolled in that program, which helps non-traditional students age 16 and up improve basic reading, writing and math skills. But only about 100 to 200 transition into taking regular college courses, said program director Marian Steel.

Across the state, the Complete College America report found 34 percent of Idaho residents between the ages of 25 and 35 have a degree, compared to 38 percent nationwide. The campaign’s goal: Make sure 60 percent of adults nationwide between those ages hold an associate or bachelor’s degree by 2020.

Among Idaho’s other public two-year colleges, the report found North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene has a 23 percent graduation rate and Eastern Idaho Technical College was at 37 percent. At Idaho’s public four-year universities, Lewis-Clark State College had the lowest graduation rate with 22 percent of students who enroll earning a degree within six years. The University of Idaho had the best graduation rate at 56 percent.

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