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Officials Probe Ivy Tech's Low Graduation Rate
Updated December 28, 2015 8:01 AM | Filed under: Education
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - State officials are reviewing Indiana's statewide community college system because of low graduation rates.

The Indianapolis Star reports the Commission for Higher Education will probe low performing programs at Ivy Tech Community College, which operates more than 30 campuses in Indiana.

The commission could restructure low-performing programs, or even eliminate them.

Ivy Tech was designated as Indiana's statewide community college system a decade ago and saw rapid growth during the Great Recession. But in recent years the college system has seen an enrollment drop 25 percent. Meanwhile, the number of students completing their schooling has have hovered at 5 percent for full-time students who finish within two years. About 26 percent graduate within six years. That's well below the national average of 58 percent for full-time community college students finishing in six years.

This month the commission recommended that Ivy Tech conduct an annual evaluation of its programs based on student and labor-market demands, among other measures. Ivy Tech will make its first formal report back to the state in March.

"I don't think our vocational programs with Ivy Tech are quite aligned with employers around the state of Indiana. That's a reason why we've been stepping back and asked for a study to be done," said State Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, who has been critical of the school in recent months.

"I think their growth has been so rapid it just hasn't quite been able to get it all focused in the right direction."

Ivy Tech "completely agrees" with the state's review because it provides a way for the college to improve, said Kathleen Lee, chancellor for Ivy Tech Central Indiana.

Ivy Tech was the only one of Indiana's public colleges that didn't receive money for any major building projects in the state's two-year state budget that took effect in July.

The budget also included a provision requiring the probe. Kenley, who is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is a leading state budget writer.

The review comes as Ivy Tech is searching for a new president with the retirement of Thomas Snyder, who has served the school since 2007. Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann has expressed interest in applying for the job, a move that a spokesman for Gov. Mike Pence said he supports.



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