By Stan Jones
26 states have implemented or are working toward performance funding for their public institutions. 22 states (and the District of Columbia) have committed to significantly increase the number of remedial college students who complete college-level math and English within their first year. 15 states are deploying extensive “15 to Finish” campaigns. And another 11 states are developing plans for either structured schedules or Guided Pathways to Success. There’s no doubt: our Alliance of States is making progress to boost college completion, and the year ahead brings with it exciting opportunities to build upon that momentum.
Complete College America has launched into 2014 with an ongoing laser-like focus on increasing the number of Americans with a college degree or credential of value and closing attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations. With the release of our most recent report, The Game Changers, we have pinpoint the five best college completion strategies and provided a clear roadmap for achieving significant results. Everything we do in 2014 – our events, publications, and our brand new website – will reflect this steadfast focus on these proven strategies.
In support of these efforts, I had the privilege last week of joining postsecondary education leaders from across the country at a White House summit centered on expanding college opportunity. At the event, it was my great honor to recognize the 23 Alliance of States members that have committed to ensuring more remedial education students succeed in our public higher education institutions.
In addition, we’ve already held our first in-state academy of the year with West Virginia, collaborating with state and institutional leaders who recognize that remediation reform is a critical element in closing the skills gap and securing our economic future. As we look to the year ahead, we are preparing for additional high-impact technical assistance events that focus on the Game Changers.
In the coming months, we will ramp up our efforts surrounding Guided Pathways to Success in STEM, an initiative spearheaded by five grant recipients (D.C., Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Ohio) that were announced at the end of last year. Thanks to our partnership with the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, these states and their ambitious plans will provide a blueprint for the rest of the country as we work to increase the number of STEM graduates coming out of American higher education.
In late December, Tennessee was announced as the first of three states to receive a $1 million grant from the Lumina Foundation for Education in partnership with Complete College America. The three-year grant will help the state’s institutions provide clearly sequenced degree plans to students that will help them follow the best and shortest paths to graduation. The other two states will be announced in the coming weeks, and 2014 will yield substantial work in this area.
Complete College America’s mission is as important as ever. We’ve seen this country come a long way through efforts to improve access, and, as a result, the freshman class looks more like America than ever before. But, as a nation, we still have work to do to ensure that graduating classes also look more like America. By focusing on the best strategies and growing our alliance of policy makers, thought leaders, and postsecondary education officials, we will see a day where many, many more Americans have the degree needed to secure their economic future and strengthen our states and nation. On behalf of all of us at Complete College America, we’re honored to be a part of this work and look forward to working with all of you in the coming year.