FINAL REPORT ON PROGRAM OF STUDY ACCOUNTING PROJECT GRAND RAPIDS COMMUNITY COLLEGE. Mary Barnum, Jeff Spoelman, Rick Barnhart JUNE 30, 2009

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1 FINAL REPORT ON PROGRAM OF STUDY ACCOUNTING PROJECT GRAND RAPIDS COMMUNITY COLLEGE Mary Barnum, Jeff Spoelman, Rick Barnhart JUNE 30, 2009 The dialogue surrounding the alignment of our accounting program with our feeder organizations (primarily high schools) and our transfer institutions is an opportunity to investigate the demands of the accounting profession and the corresponding entry requirements of legitimate business schools. We are aware that not all accounting jobs demand top level students but technology has changed the requirements for educational levels in accounting. Repetitive work once performed by clerks with two-year accounting degrees is now being done by software. The remaining jobs require a four-year degree at a minimum, and promotion typically requires education beyond the bachelor s level. Mary Barnum took the lead role in this project because of the summer teaching schedules of Jeff Spoelman and Rick Barnhart. However, each of the three accounting faculty was an invaluable member of this project team and input from each has been critical. This task has not been simple one. The path to the accounting profession is one that begins with high school, continues at the community college, proceeds through a College of Business within a four-year university, and ends ultimately with a business or public accounting firm that actively courts accounting professionals who aspire to become Certified Public Accountants (CPA). We began the project with brainstorming and research, attempting to uncover what traits are necessary for success in the field of accounting. We studied the work done at the high school level through their gap analysis; compared NOCTI Michigan standards with GRCC s accounting principles requirements; looked at NOCTI tests; talked with high school accounting faculty; received and compared high school textbooks, syllabi, and tests to our own at Grand Rapids Community College; looked at reading levels of high school and college textbooks; investigated depth of coverage in high school and college textbooks; compared the success rates of our accounting principles students who came to us with a high school accounting background with those who had no high school accounting; and compared average scores with BA256 student grades for four semesters.

2 GAP ANALYSIS COMPARISON After reviewing a number of GAP analysis from area high schools, we added a column in response to the Wyoming Park High School s analysis of their accounting coverage. Our column included six notations, as follows: LEGEND EXPLANATION OF LEGEND 1. more depth at college level The subject matter is covered at the high school level; however, based on our research, this topic is covered with more complexity at the college level. A level 3 (Accomplishes task to criteria) at the secondary school is much different than that which is taught at the post-secondary level. 2. OKAY The high school covers this subject matter satisfactorily. 3. LOWER LEVEL CONCEPT NOT USED IN COLLEGE These are primarily bookkeeping concepts that are of a low level nature and not covered at the college level. 4. WORKSHEET NOT USED IN COLLEGE The worksheet is a bookkeeping device that is no longer used at the college level. 5. N/A Not applicable to this study. 6. SUCCESS IN ACCOUNTING DEPENDENT ON THIS This concept is critical for success in the field of accounting and should be considered a prerequisite for admittance to Principles of Accounting at the college level. NOCTI TESTS AND INVESTIGATION OF HIGH SCHOOL BOOKKEEPING CLASSES Our work compared NOCTI Michigan standards with GRCC s accounting principles requirements; the NOCTI tests showed a level of complexity much below that of Accounting Principles at the college level. In addition we talked with a high school accounting faculty who sent us his syllabus and final exams; again, our examination showed high school accounting to be a fairly low-level bookkeeping course; we also found the degree of complexity at the high school level to be far below that of college Accounting Principles. We received and compared a high school textbook (Guerrieri - Glencoe) with our text (Kimmel Wylie). We analyzed a sample paragraph in each text that introduced the concept of the corporate form of business; the high school text once again showed a lack of complexity in comparison to the college text. In addition, the high school text had a reading level of Grade 9.5 while the Wylie college text showed a reading level of Grade 12.

3 SCORES COMPARED WITH SUCCESS RATES OF PRINCIPLES OF ACCOUNTING I STUDENTS We requested information from our Institutional Research office for four semesters (Fall 2006, Winter 2007, Fall 2007, Winter 2008) and performed a simple analysis based on students grades in BA256, our first principles of accounting course, and their scores. We used grades from full-time accounting faculty only. The following table summarizes the results: COMPOSITE ENGLISH MATH READING SCIENCE PERCENT OF STUDENTS REPORTING SCORES BA256 STUDENTS GRADES FROM F06, W07, F07, W08 (FULL-TIME FACULTY ONLY)( A % B % C % We compared our average scores with those issued by the assessment organization, which indicated the following scores predict the chance of a student earning a grade of B or better in credit-bearing first year college courses. Based on our small sample, it appears students wishing to major in accounting need improvement in English (19.92 in GRCC s BA256 versus 18 for a grade of B) and Reading (21.85 in GRCC s BA256 versus 21 for a grade of B). COMPOSITE ENGLISH MATH READING SCIENCE REPORTED CHANCE OF B OR BETTER IN CREDIT- BEARING FIRST YEAR COLLEGE COURSES

4 Because students who wish to proceed along the accounting career path must earn a grade of B or better in the first Accounting Principles course, it would appear our high schools should concentrate on basic skills in the four categories to help prepare their students for success in the field of accounting. However, it should also be noted that students who are successful as accounting majors seldom earn a grade of B in their first principles of accounting class. Typically, it is the students earning an A in the first accounting class who are successful accounting majors. This provides an even larger gap in scores, especially when we compare our average scores for our A students and the average scores for the state of Michigan..org reports 70% of Michigan students took the test in 2007; averages are noted in the following table: STATE OF MICHIGAN 2007 BA256 STUDENTS GRADES FROM F06, W07, F07, W08 A STUDENTS COMPOSITE ENGLISH MATH READING SCIENCE Our recommendation that our high schools concentrate on basic skills in the four categories to help prepare their students for success in the field of accounting is further buttressed with our small sample of students who enrolled in BA256 in AY06/07 or AY07/08. We compared the success rates of our accounting principles students who came to use with a high school accounting background with those who had no high school accounting; the results show no discernible difference in success rates for those who arrive at GRCC with a high school accounting background and those who have never had high school accounting. WORKKEYS WorkKey scores are also a branch of the organization. It is recommended (act.org/workkeys/) that students wishing to succeed in accounting score as follows: Applied math = 6; Locating information = 5; Reading for information = 5. However, based on our analysis of the workkey skills descriptions, it would appear these rankings are too low and do not reflect the complexity of an accounting professional who earns a baccalaureate degree. As noted above, repetitive work once performed by clerks with two-year accounting degrees is now being done by software. The remaining jobs require a four-year degree at a minimum, and promotion typically requires education beyond the bachelor s level. This concept is supported at =2&soccode=132011&stfips=26&x=49&y=6#op4, which notes that success in the field of accounting depends on a bachelor s degree.

5 WEBSITE RESEARCH FOR CAREER INFORMATION IN ACCOUNTING We researched several websites for career information and found the best to be =2&soccode=132011&stfips=26&x=49&y=6#op4. This website noted that success in the field of accounting depends on a bachelor s degree. It further stated: Accountants and Auditors are grouped into the following occupations for which the most important knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) are listed. Knowledge: Accountants Knowledge: Auditors Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications. Economics and Accounting - Knowledge of economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking and the analysis and reporting of financial data. English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar. Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction. Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming. Economics and Accounting - Knowledge of economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking and the analysis and reporting of financial data. English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar. Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources. Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming. Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications. Skills: Skills: Mathematics - Using mathematics to solve problems. Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times. Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems. Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action. Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one. Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems. Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents. Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times. Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively. Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience. Abilities: Abilities: Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem. Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense. Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations). Mathematical Reasoning - The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem. Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand. Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand. Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences. Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing. Mathematical Reasoning - The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem. Number Facility - The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly. Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand. Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem. Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

6 CONCLUSIONS Students wishing to succeed in the field of accounting must earn a minimum of a Bachelor s degree. To be successful as accounting majors, students must enter college with a 12 th grade reading level. They should concentrate on higher level English, Math, and Science in high school, in order to prepare themselves for the complexity of the accounting curriculum. High school accounting/bookkeeping courses have no discernible benefit for students wishing to major in accounting. MOVING FORWARD This project has answered a number of questions but has opened up many more. We should consider the following in future semesters: Continue our statistical analysis Contact the high schools to share this information Talk with our transfer institutions Share the information with our BA256 adjuncts Consider drafting an article for publication with our findings Talk with employers

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