Many W.Va. Students Don’t Earn Degrees After Six Years

CHARLESTON (AP) – Many in-state students at West Virginia’s public higher education institutions don’t earn a degree after six years, an annual graduation report shows.

Fewer than half of in-state freshmen enrolled in fall 2005 earned their degrees six years later. West Virginia University was the exception, with a 2012 six-year graduation rate of 56 percent, the report shows.

Marshall University’s six-year graduation rate was 44 percent, followed by Shepherd University, 43 percent; and West Liberty University, 41 percent.

Other schools’ rates were: Concord University, 38 percent; Fairmont State University, 34 percent, Glenville State College, 30 percent; Bluefield State College, 25 percent; WVU Tech, 24 percent; and West Virginia State University, 21 percent.

Higher education officials presented the report Monday to an interim legislative committee.

Graduation rates at Fairmont State, Shepherd and West Liberty met or exceeded their peer institutions, 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.

Rob Anderson, executive vice chancellor for administration, told the committee that there is a lot of work to do, much of it in collaboration with the West Virginia Department of Education.

Anderson said nearly 26 percent of in-state freshmen enrolling in state colleges in 2012 had to take one or more developmental courses in the fall semester. The rates ranged from fewer than 1 percent of freshmen at Shepherd and WVU to 62 percent of freshmen at Bluefield State. Other schools’ rates 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.

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. Other scores 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.