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Most W.Va. colleges' students short of degrees after 6 years

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Except for those at West Virginia University, fewer than half of all in-state students who enrolled as freshmen in fall 2005 had earned four-year degrees six years later, according to the annual graduation rate report provided Monday to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability.

The 2012 six-year graduation rate for in-state students ranged from 56 percent at WVU to 21 percent at West Virginia State University.

In between were Marshall, 44 percent; Shepherd, 43 percent; West Liberty, 41 percent; Concord, 38 percent; Fairmont State, 34 percent; Glenville State, 30 percent; Bluefield State, 25 percent; and WVU Tech, 24 percent.

Three colleges had graduation rates that met or exceeded their peer institutions: Fairmont State, Shepherd and West Liberty, state higher education Chancellor Paul Hill told the committee.

"In some cases, the standard isn't very high," said Senate Education Chairman Robert Plymale, D-Wayne. "Exceeding your peers and only having a 38 percent graduation rate, or 41 percent, to me, that's still not acceptable."

Hill said the goal is to see at least a 6 percent overall increase in graduation rates.

Likewise, nearly 26 percent of in-state freshmen enrolling in state colleges in 2012 had to take one or more development courses in the fall semester, Rob Anderson, executive vice chancellor for administration, told the committee.

Percentages ranged from fewer than 1 percent of freshmen at Shepherd and WVU to 62 percent of freshmen at Bluefield State.

Others were Glenville State, 61 percent; Fairmont State, 42.6 percent; Concord, 40.6 percent; West Liberty, 40.3 percent; West Virginia State and WVU Tech, each 37.1 percent; and Marshall, 32.5 percent.

"It's clear we have a lot of work to do, and a lot of it is in collaboration with our colleagues in the Department of Education," Anderson said.

A total of 10.4 percent of in-state freshmen enrolled in development English courses, while 23.4 percent enrolled in developmental math.

Average ACT composite scores for in-state freshmen in 2012 ranged from 23.8 at WVU to 19.1 at Glenville State.

Others were Shepherd, 22.4; Marshall, 22.3; Concord, 21.5; WVU Tech, 21.1; West Liberty, 20.7; Fairmont State, 20.6; West Virginia State, 20.0; and Bluefield State, 19.7.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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