The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Top News

October 10, 2013

Data: Retention low at Iowa community colleges

DES MOINES — Statistics show fewer students return for a second year at Iowa’s community colleges than in other Midwestern states, but officials say they’re working to change that.

Iowa’s retention rate of 49.9 percent means just half of the students are returning. The rate is also lower than the national average of 53 percent, The Des Moines Register reported. Federal data from 2010 shows Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin have higher retention rates.

Iowa’s 15 community colleges have implemented new programs in recent years to boost retention, including mandatory orientation classes and a more aggressive outreach to struggling students. School leaders have also started meeting once a year to discuss ways to improve retention and graduation rates.

“The loss is the lost potential of a person who doesn’t finish,” said Des Moines Area Community College President Robert Denson. “The more education and skills you have, the more ability you have to command a higher wage,” he told the newspaper.

Data from Iowa Workforce Development show only a third of the state’s adults qualify for the growing number of jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree. The Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., shows the lifetime earnings of a typical college graduate is about $650,000 more than for a high school graduate.

Results from the new retention programs have been mixed in Iowa but more successful in nearby states like Wisconsin, where the student retention rate is 58 percent. Retention programs have also been successful in states outside the region, including Florida. Broward College in the Fort Lauderdale area, which launched retention programs in 2003, had a student retention rate of 66 percent in 2009, a jump from 57 percent in 2006.

DMACC’s retention rate has remained around 50 percent since at least 2007, but some programs show promise. A mandatory orientation class that debuted in fall 2012 shows 89 percent of students who passed the class enrolled for the spring semester, compared with 66 percent who did not take the class.

In 2009, Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids began contacting students who showed signs of academic struggles. And a new one-day orientation introduces students to faculty, advisers and other school resources.

“I do think it’s a challenge to get them to come in,” said Bobbi Miller, the college’s associate dean of students. “But once they come in, they appreciate that somebody is willing to sit down and talk with them,”

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Jenny McCarthy announces engagement on 'The View'

    Jenny McCarthy had big news to share Wednesday on "The View": She's engaged to Donnie Wahlberg.

    McCarthy raised her hidden left hand from behind the desk, revealing an engagement ring.

    April 16, 2014

  • Iran cuts nuke weapons ability

    The United Nations will release a report this week certifying that Iran's ability to make a nuclear bomb has been greatly reduced because it has diluted half of its material that can be turned most quickly into weapons-grade uranium, diplomats said Tuesday.

    April 16, 2014

  • 283 missing, 4 dead in South Korea ferry disaster

    A ferry carrying 462 people, mostly high school students on an overnight trip to a tourist island, sank off South Korea's southern coast on Wednesday, leaving more than 280 people missing despite a frantic, hours-long rescue by dozens of ships and helicopters. At least four people were confirmed dead and 55 injured.

    April 16, 2014

  • NATO ups military presence amid Russian threat

    NATO is strengthening its military footprint along its eastern border immediately in response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine, the alliance's chief said Wednesday.

    Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said NATO's air policing aircraft will fly more sorties over the Baltic region west of Ukraine, far from the tensions in the eastern part of the country. He said allied warships will also deploy to the Baltic Sea, the eastern Mediterranean and elsewhere if needed.

    April 16, 2014

  • Police: Utah woman gave birth at home

    A Utah woman accused of concealing seven pregnancies before strangling or suffocating her newborns gave birth each time in her home, authorities said Wednesday.

    Investigators have determined that Megan Huntsman, 39, did not go to a hospital to have the babies, Pleasant Grove Police Capt. Mike Roberts said. He didn't say if anybody helped her give birth.

    April 16, 2014

  • Illinois trooper charged for roadside strip search

    A southwestern Illinois state trooper is facing a felony aggravated battery charge after authorities say he strip-searched a man along the side of a road during a traffic stop.

    The (Belleville) News-Democrat reports 32-year-old Cory Alberson was released on $20,000 bail on Monday after he pleaded not guilty.

    April 16, 2014

  • Classes resume at high school rocked by stabbings

    Classes resumed Wednesday at a Pittsburgh-area high school where authorities said a student stabbed or slashed 21 others and a security guard a week ago while rampaging through a hallway with two kitchen knives.

    Before school began, some students gathered at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday on the football field behind Franklin Regional High School to pray and to support one another.

    April 16, 2014

  • Iowa workforce chief gave judge positive reviews

    Iowa Workforce Development Director Teresa Wahlert approved positive performance evaluations for the agency's former chief unemployment appeals judge, records show, undermining her public claims that he was a poor manager who decided cases slowly.

    Wahlert sharply criticized the agency's former chief administrative law judge Joe Walsh on April 3, hours after he filed a wrongful termination lawsuit. He contends that Wahlert laid off both him and his wife, who worked in another agency division, after he opposed Wahlert's efforts to change his job into a political appointment and to favor employers over workers in decisions.

    April 16, 2014

  • Cool, wet spring may ease western Plains drought

    A spring forecast of above-average rainfall in parts of the Plains region is raising hopes for a break in drought conditions plaguing much of the area.

    "It looks pretty good for conditions to improve into the early summer," said Sioux Falls-based National Weather Service hydrologist Mike Gillispie about predictions for precipitation in parts of Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota.

    April 16, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video