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NO TIME TO WASTE: A Roadmap for SREB States to Lead the Nation in College Attainment Rates

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“Nothing less than economic and social progress in our region and across the nation is at stake.”

A new report from the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) calls for SREB states to share Lumina’s goal of having 60 percent of working-age adults earn some type of high-quality credential by the year 2025.1 No Time to Waste: Policy Recommendations for Increasing College Completion explains why this needs to be a top priority and provides a roadmap of actions for SREB states to take in order to significantly increase the number of students who complete associate’s and bachelor’s degrees and postsecondary career certificates of value.

“Reaching this goal will require a sea change in state policy and in how higher education operates, starting now,” said SREB President Dave Spence. “Nothing less than economic and social progress in our region and across the nation is at stake.”

Currently SREB states have between 26 and 44 percent of adults aged twenty-five to sixty-four with a two- or four-year college degree. States have incomplete data on the percentage of adults who hold career/technical certificates, something the report points out as one of the many issues that need to be addressed in order to reach the goal.

No Time to Waste outlines several other major policy recommendations for states. It suggests that states should make college completion a top priority and create statewide plans for improvement with detailed goals, roles, and responsibilities. It adds that postsecondary system leaders and individual institutions’ presidents should be accountable for raising (1) the number of degrees and career certificates awarded annually, and (2) graduation rates.

The report recommends specific changes for states including identifying and requiring much-improved statewide measures to assess degree completion and related performance indicators for all public colleges and universities. To make college more accessible, the report calls for financing strategies and other education policies for meeting college-completion goals. It suggests that states improve college affordability by coordinating funding, tuition, and financial aid policies to enable more students to complete career certificates and degrees. The report also suggests that states support institutional productivity and cost-efficiency strategies that reduce students’ excess credits toward degrees, result in timely degree completion at lower costs, and put in place a guaranteed statewide college-transfer system recognized by all public community colleges and universities.

To read the full report, visit http://publications.sreb.org/2010/10E10_No_Time_to_Waste.pdf.

1 SREB states are Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

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Higher Education

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