An affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has released a new report on colleges in Louisiana, ranking the state’s colleges in the bottom 10 nationwide for retention and completion, while also giving the state high marks for incentivizing better performance from colleges and the ability of students to transfer from school to school.

According to The Advocate, the report was prepared by the Institute for a Competitive Workforce, which gave letter grades to states and their public two- and four- year universities in various categories:

Louisiana got one A and one F with mostly average or below-average grades in between. The F grade was assigned to the state’s four-year schools in the “Student Access and Success” category, which measures the ability to retain and graduate students within a “reasonable” amount of time and also grades the level of access low-income students have to public colleges and universities.

The report says Louisiana’s four-year schools rank in the bottom 10 states in the nation in student retention and completion. Two-year schools were given a C grade.

[State Commissioner of Higher Education Jim] Purcell said the low score for four-year schools can be traced back to the youth of Louisiana’s community college system, which is less than a decade old.

When much of the data was collected, the state’s regional four-year colleges had lower admissions standards and offered more remedial classes than their out-of-state peers, Purcell said. They were essentially functioning as community colleges, he added.

Also, the cohort researchers studied for the Student Access and Success measure predated higher admission standards that kicked in in 2006, Purcell said.
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