Neither Baton Rouge Community College nor Capital Area Technical College did a very good job reporting student data the state’s top higher education board uses to determine whether schools can raise tuition, according to a legislative auditor’s report released Monday.
The report, which looked at data from last year, found that 11 out of 16 schools in the Louisiana Community and Technical College System submitted student information to the Louisiana Board of Regents that was “not sufficiently reliable” — a conclusion LCTCS President Joe May acknowledged Monday.
The Regents use the data to verify whether schools meet the performance standards spelled out in the 2010 LA GRAD Act.
The GRAD Act is made up of 52 benchmarks based predominantly on student success. The law allows colleges to increase tuition by up to 10 percent a year, if they meet those performance goals. Additionally, the state’s performance-based funding formula ties 15 percent of overall state funding for each college on meeting the GRAD Act goals.
Every public college in the state hit its GRAD Act targets last year, which allowed the institutions to raise tuition.
Meg Casper, the Regents’ associate commissioner of public affairs, said none of the unreliable data uncovered in the audit was egregious enough to have kept schools from meeting the legislation’s performance goals.
The report, further, won’t affect the Regents’ Wednesday board meeting where schools are expected to learn whether they will be allowed to increase tuition in the fall, Casper said.
The audit is the state’s first review of the GRAD Act data.
“It provides an opportunity to see the problems with the data collection so they can be fixed,” Casper said. “We appreciate the legislative auditor taking a look to make sure the data is as robust as possible.”
In the case of BRCC, auditors found a number of problems related to students and the number of credits they were taking.
The report found the school either under-reported or over-reported credit hours involving more than 500 students enrolled in Spring 2011.
Capital Area Technical College’s problems included misidentifying first-time freshmen as continuing students; classifying continuing students as transfer students; and incorrectly reporting some students as having met graduation requirements.
System President Joe May called the audit part of “a learning experience” and said an independent review verified that all degrees awarded were earned.
May said a new computer system schools are phasing in systemwide will streamline data collection and cut down on human error.
The system should be in place by January, he said.