Explanatory Narrative


Explanatory Narrative

FRESHMAN APPLICATIONS REPORT (FAR)
Introduction - This report summarizes data on 1996-97 high school graduates who applied for admission as freshmen to a UNC institution in the fall of 1997. It presents data on acceptance rates and enrollment rates for applicants grouped by race and gender. The first page of the report contains counts of applications, acceptances, and enrollees at each institution. The second page eliminates the double counting caused by applicants who apply to more than one UNC institution. It presents data on applicants, rather than applications, and presents counts of graduates who applied to more than one UNC institution.
 
This report is a companion to the 1997 Freshmen Performance Report (FPR) which tracks the academic performance of recent high school graduates in their first year of coursework. Like the FPR, it contains summary reports on high school graduates from each North Carolina public school district and from all North Carolina public high schools taken together. These reports permit comparisons of individual high school data with school district and state level data.
 
Protecting Students' Right to Privacy - To protect students' right to privacy, acceptance rates presented on line "b" of the first page of the report show an asterisk (*) whenever the number of applications to a particular institution shown in line "a" is equal to one or two. Similarly, asterisks are shown on lines 2a, 3a, 3b, 6, and 7 of the second page of the report whenever the number of applicants shown on lines 2, 3, and 4 are equal to one or two.
 
Note about Race Categories - Race/ethnic categories used by the University of North Carolina include an "other race/ethnic" category that is not used by North Carolina public schools. The incongruity results from differences in federal reporting standards applicable to the two sectors. The symbol "NA" is used in data cells in which public school data are not available for graduates in the "other race/ethnic" category.
 
First Page: Applications - Only applications that are sufficiently complete to permit an admissions decision are included in data on applications, acceptance rates, and enrollments.
 
Second Page: Applicants - Line 1, "Number of graduates," and lines 10 and 11, "Number (and Percent) of graduates intending to enroll at a UNC institution" are drawn from NC Department of Public Instruction data on high school graduate intentions. All other data are drawn from University records.
 
 
FRESHMAN PERFORMANCE REPORT (FPR)
Introduction - This report is an analysis of 1995-96 high school graduates who attended a UNC institution in the fall semester of 1997. It presents summary data on students' first-year grades, initial course placement, and end-of-year academic status. The period covered is the first summer session of 1997 through the spring semester of 1998.
Each North Carolina public high school received a packet of data that includes the report on its 1995-96 graduates and three other groups:
1. the graduates of all public high schools in its school district;
2. the graduates of all public high schools in North Carolina; and
3. the graduates of all public and private high schools, in- and out-of-state.
These three reference group reports are intended to permit performance comparisons between graduates of an individual high school and those covered by the report. All reports follow the same format. The title indicates the group being described.
 
The purpose of the report is to provide feedback to principals and school superintendents on the academic performance of their graduates during their freshman year at a UNC institution. The content and format of the report follow recommendations made by a representative group of North Carolina public school superintendents. Data from the North Carolina School of the Arts are not reported in either report because of the small number of students from any one high school attending that institution.
 
Protecting Students' Right to Privacy - To protect students' right to privacy, data on freshman year performance are reported only when three or more students attend a UNC institution from a given high school. If two or fewer students attend any one institution, then the count of students is shown on line 1 but no other data for that institution are given. This practice ensures that the report may be used as a public document.
 
Section A: Academic Status Summary (Lines 1-7) - Line 1 of this section presents the count of fall semester freshmen at each UNC institution who graduated within the previous year from the high school or group of high schools named in the title. All percentages calculated in sections A and B (but not C) use this count as the denominator.
 
Lines 2 and 3 give the percentage of freshmen whose overall grade point average, calculated at the end of their last semester in attendance, was greater than 2.0 (C) and 3.0 (B), respectively. Line 4 indicates the percentage who returned for the spring semester, while line 5 indicates the percentage who returned for a second year in the fall semester of 1998. Line 6 indicates the percentage who returned for the second year and had an overall grade point average of 2.0 or better. Line 7 indicates the percentage who returned for the second year, had an overall grade point average of 2.0 or better, and had completed 30 or more credit hours with passing grades in each course taken in the freshman year.
 
Section B: Initial Course Placement Recommendations and Initial Course Performance (Lines 8-16) - Each UNC institution has procedures for recommending initial course placement in English and mathematics. Although some institutions do not test students for advanced placement, most do, so that students can be guided into the appropriate courses — advanced, standard, or remedial. NCA&T, UNCC, UNCP, and UNCW do not use tests to determine advanced placement in English. ECU, FSU, and NCCU do not use tests to determine placement into calculus.
 
In English, advanced placement (line 8) means that the student has demonstrated reading, writing, and communication skills above those required in the standard freshman course in English Composition. In mathematics, advanced placement (line 11) typically means that a student is ready to enroll in a calculus course. The standard first course in mathematics is usually a college algebra or precalculus course, although some students take courses in finite mathematics, probability and statistics, or similar courses not requiring calculus as a prerequisite (labeled "other math" on line 13). Students with deficiencies in reading, writing, or communication skills are placed in remedial English (line 10). Students with deficiencies in high school algebra skills are placed in remedial mathematics (line 14). The percentage of freshmen who took one or more remedial courses is shown on line 16.
 
At most institutions the percentage of freshmen who enrolled in one or more remedial courses (as reported in line 16) will not equal the sum of those reported in remedial English (line 10) and remedial mathematics (line 14). There are several reasons for this. First, some students will be placed in both remedial English and remedial mathematics. Such students are counted only once in line 16. Second, some students whose placement test scores are marginally above the cut-off for taking a remedial course will nevertheless choose to take a remedial course while others whose scores indicated a need for remedial work will choose to take the standard course. Third, many students who were initially placed in regular English or mathematics courses are advised by their instructors to switch to remedial sections based on initial writing samples, review tests, and other indicators of weakness in a subject. Finally, some remedial courses are offered in areas other than English and mathematics, and they are reported on line 16 but not on line 10 or 14.
 
Students, then, may ignore placement recommendations and take a first course in English or mathematics that is above or below the recommended level. Overall, 20 percent of freshmen chose to do so in the case of English, and 33 percent in the case of mathematics. It is important to keep in mind that the data reported on lines 8-14 refer to course placement recommended.
 
Finally, it should be noted that freshmen at NCA&T and UNCW are not eligible to participate in an honors program (line 15). Such programs offer students the opportunity to take courses with enriched content and an accelerated pace. Selection to participate in an honors program is based on the student's record of academic achievement.
 
Section C: Course Performance Measures in College-Level Courses, Summer 1997 Through Spring 1998 (Lines 17-43) - Course performance data in this section are based only on the records of freshmen who attended both the fall and spring semesters; records of freshmen who did not return for the spring semester were not used. Also, only college-level coursework — not remedial — was used in calculating data on lines 17-43. Finally, all freshmen courses taken were grouped by the seven subject areas shown in order to correspond as closely as possible to the major subject areas taught in high schools. College courses in professional fields such as education and business and those in fine arts and letters were all grouped into the subject area labeled "other courses."
 
The purpose of the data in section C is to summarize how full-year students performed in all non-remedial coursework. Lines 17, 20. 23. 26, 29, 32, and 35 show the average credit hours attempted by these students in each of the seven subject areas, with the average courseload for the year shown on line 38. All non-remedial coursework, except some courses in physical education that exceed the number applicable to a degree, are shown on these lines.
 
Lines 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36, and 39 show the average grades earned in non-remedial courses. Courses with letter grades that cannot be converted to quality points (e.g., withdrawal, incomplete) were of necessity excluded from these calculations, but the percentage of course grades reported in lines 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, 34, 37, and 40-43 includes grades not converted to quality points.
 
Abbreviations for grades not converting to quality points are shown on lines 41-43. They are Incomplete, W=Withdrawal, WP=Withdrawal Passing, P=Pass, S=Satisfactory, and R=Repeat. The grade of R is not a grade that is actually used by campuses but is used in this report in cases where a course is repeated and the original grade has been deleted from the record.
Lines 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, 34, and 37 indicate the percentage of course grades in each subject, and overall (line 40), that were C or better — or (in the case of courses graded pass/fail or satisfactory/unsatisfactory) that were graded Pass or Satisfactory. Percentages in lines 40-43 should add to 100 percent, give or take rounding differences.
 
Section D: High School Achievement (Lines 44-46) - In this section the average class rank and average SAT scores of freshmen reported on line 1 are shown. Average class ranks are expressed as percentiles running from a low of "1" to a high of "99." Thus, if the average class rank is 75, this means the students, on average, were in the top 25 percent of their graduating class.
 
Troubleshooting Your Report - Although you may have questions about your report, we have tried to anticipate several that warrant explanation here. We address them section by section.
In section A, you may find a higher number on line 5 than on line 4 for any UNC institution. This will occur when students, who may have skipped their spring semester, return for the next fall semester. Keep in mind that lines 2-7 all use line 1 as the denominator in computing their percentages.
 
In section A, the relationship between lines 5, 6, and 7 is: line 7 should be less than or equal to line 6 which should be less than or equal to line 5. This is because the number of conditions that students must satisfy in order to be included in the numerator of line 7 is greater than those needed to be included in the numerator of line 6 which is still greater than those needed to be included in the numerator of line 5.
 
In section B, the data on placement in remedial courses (lines 10 and 14) and enrollment in one or more remedial courses (line 16) do not account for remedial work done by students in academic skill labs, tutorial sessions, and informal help sessions with instructors. These activities address weaknesses in a subject that are too limited in scope, content, or frequency to justify enrollment in a remedial course.
 
In section C, the calculation of average course grades in lines 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, and 36 uses the total number of non-remedial courses taken in each subject and in all subjects (line 39) by full-year students as the denominator.
 
In section C, the average credit hours taken in each subject vary among UNC institutions in part because general education requirements vary among institutions, and in part because policies for placing out of required courses also vary. These differences are particularly important in the case of foreign languages where some institutions require proficiency in a foreign language which may be demonstrated by successfully completing prescribed coursework or by passing a proficiency test. For example, although all students at UNCC must demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language that is equivalent to having taken one full year of college-level coursework in the language, fully 58 percent of freshmen in 1990-91 satisfied this requirement by passing a proficiency test. Finally, a data cell contains an asterisk when data are not printed in order to protect students' privacy rights.
 
 
RETENTION, GRADUATION, AND PERSISTENCE (RGP) REPORT
This report provides a three- and five-year follow-up of students who entered a UNC institution in the fall term following high school graduation. Like the FAR and FPR reports, it contains summary reports for each NC public high school, each NC public high school district, all NC public high schools combined, and all high schools (public, private, and out-of-state) combined. The total number of freshmen in 1995 (line 1) represents the count of fall freshmen at each UNC institution who graduated in 1994-95 from a given high school. Lines 2-4 give the percentage of students who returned in the fall of 1998 and are calculated in lines 2-4 using line 1 as the denominator. Note, that this does not necessarily represent continuous enrollment.
 
Line 3 indicates the percentage of students in line 1 who enrolled in the fall of 1998 with a GPA of 2.0 or better, and line 4 indicates the percentage who enrolled in the fall of 1998 with a GPA of 2.0 or better and had completed 60 or more credit hours with passing grades.

Likewise, line 5 presents the count of fall freshmen in 1992 who graduated from a given high school in 1991-92. All percentages calculated in lines 6 and 7 use line 5 as the denominator. Line 6 indicates the percentage who graduated by fall 1998. Line 7 reports the percentage who persisted (the percentage who were still enrolled in fall 1998 or had graduated by fall 1998).

 
Protecting Students' Right to Privacy - To protect students' right to privacy, if two or fewer students are reported in a given cell, the count of students is shown but no other data for these students at that institution are given. This practice ensures that the report may be used as a public document.