About one in four undergraduate students who enrolled at North Carolina A&T in the fall is now on academic probation or suspension for either failing or not making adequate progress toward graduation.
That total — 2,562 students out of an undergraduate enrollment of 9,687 — was significantly higher than other similar public universities in the region.
Of the 10,902 undergraduate students enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro last spring, only 5.5 percent were put on academic probation and 2.7 percent on academic suspension, a total of 894 students.
Winston-Salem State University, a historically Black university like N.C. A&T, had 144 students on academic probation and 371 on suspension in the fall. That’s about 8 percent of a student population of nearly 6,000.
Administrators at N.C. A&T attribute the roughly 400 percent increase from fall 2005 to fall 2006 to a renewed and strict compliance of university policies, though it’s unclear why they weren’t followed more closely in the past.
“We were making sure we’re adhering to our policies,” said Janice Brewington, A&T’s interim provost who assumed the job in May. “That number caught some students who may not have been in the mix before … that we had not picked up or had overlooked or had not been consistent in relationship to applying the policies.”
Administrators admit they are concerned about the numbers and have created internal committees to dissect data and alter policies as necessary.
Administrators also are working to pinpoint other variables, including family or financial problems or admissions criteria, that affect the number of students on probation or suspension, Brewington said.
The designation may not mean a student is failing academically, said Lee Young, A&T’s director of admissions.
“If you had been here perhaps with a 3.5 GPA but you were five to six hours under where you needed to be, you may have not been touched before as a probation,” he said. “Now I’m touching you as a probation because I want to get you on point, that even though you are proceeding toward graduation, you’re not doing so as quickly as perhaps you should.”
Failing to pass a certain number of semester hours and meet a required grade-point average results in academic probation. That number increased 376 percent, from 374 students in fall 2005 to 1,779 students in fall 2006.
This semester, the number of students on probation increased another 27 percent, from 1,779 students in the fall to 2,264 students. That’s the result of the increased scrutiny administrators are giving students’ progress, according to Young.
Students on probation have one semester to improve, or they are suspended from the university for a semester.
The percentage of students on academic suspension increased 467 percent in fall 2006 compared to fall 2005, from 138 students to 783 students. That number dropped 45 percent this semester, from 783 students in the fall to 430 students.
Young attributed the improvement to students taking the steps necessary to improve their status.
The standards for academic suspension and probation vary from school to school within the University of North Carolina system, said Kemal Atkins, the system’s director for academic and student affairs. So the system doesn’t evaluate schools based on the number of students on probation or suspension, he said, instead focusing on the number of students who earn D’s and F’s or who withdraw from classes.
The high percentage of N.C. A&T students on academic probation or suspension “would be a cause for alarm,” he said.
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