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Committee on Academics works to define academic success

Impact of transfers and new SAT format also examined

The Division I Committee on Academics began an overarching review of the division’s approach to academic achievement, including the Academic Performance Program.

The group will focus not only on the purpose and outcomes of the program, but also on identifying potential gaps and opportunities in the current system.

“The whole purpose and mission of our universities is to educate our students, and athletics is a wonderful path to an education for our student-athletes,” said Pamela Eibeck, president of the University of the Pacific and committee vice chair. “Student-athletes and their academic success have to be at the center of our conversations.”

In order to better evaluate the overall program, the committee began looking at the individual metrics it includes – the more contemporary Academic Progress Rate, which measures classroom progress and is intended to be predictive of eventual graduation success, and the Graduation Success Rate, a six-year graduation rate that accounts for transfer behavior.

The committee noted that the Graduation Success Rate for Division I student-athletes is currently 86 percent, 6 points higher than the aspirational goal set by former NCAA President Myles Brand when the program began. The single-year Academic Progress Rate, meanwhile, sits at 981, 20 points higher than when data first were collected.

Both metrics, the committee members noted, may not fully account for local success. For example, many limited-resource and historically black colleges and universities earn student-athlete graduation rates that are significantly higher than the rates earned by the student body at these schools. The group is interested in helping schools better share their success.

The committee members also noted interest in identifying positive outcomes beyond graduation that could be tied to athletics participation.

Transfers were also part of the conversation. Data show that transferring has a negative impact on a student’s likelihood of graduation. The committee will continue to look at the academic impact of transferring and will seek to identify ways to keep students on track academically.

The committee will continue to examine academic achievement and how best to measure it.

Transfer adjustment policy

The committee also approved changes to a policy that prevents schools from losing an Academic Progress Rate point for students who transfer. A subcommittee on data studied the issue for more than a year before recommending that the group make two data-driven changes to the transfer adjustment policy:

  • Students are no longer required to attend a school for a full academic year in order for the school to be eligible for the transfer adjustment.
  • Students who transfer to a two-year school after earning at least a 3.3 GPA may have the retention point forgiven for their original school.

The other requirements – a 2.6 GPA for students transferring to another four-year school, remaining eligible during the last term of enrollment before transfer and transferring immediately to another school – will remain in place.

The policy change will be effective immediately and retroactively for all students accounted for in the multiyear Academic Progress Rate data currently being collected, allowing schools to recoup lost points dating back to the 2012-13 academic year.

SAT impact on initial eligibility

The committee also heard an update from an NCAA technical panel monitoring the use of the new SAT in initial eligibility evaluations. The College Board, which manages the SAT, released a new version of the test earlier this year. The new version tests for different academic concepts than the old version, and numerical scores are not equivalent. As a result, the College Board issued a table that compares new scores with old. This impacts the NCAA’s sliding scale for determining eligibility, which relies on test scores and high school GPA. The sliding scale is based on the old SAT.

The committee has been responding to this issue for more than a year. The concordance table created by the College Board was used for incoming students in 2016. In the future, the NCAA, at the committee’s direction and following the advice of the technical panel, will continue to use the College Board table to determine qualifier status, but will employ an adjusted table for waiver consideration.  The panel will study the predictive abilities of the new SAT on student-athlete academic success in college and could work toward creating a new sliding scale in the future.

Academic misconduct

Enforcement staff met with the committee to discuss methods of preventing academic misconduct on campus. To begin, committee members suggested that staff focus on topics such as coach interference, grade changes and nontraditional coursework, with the goal of not only identifying best practices but also helping enforcement staff concentrate on areas most important to members.