Tuesday, July 10, 2012
College graduation rates up, but gap widens for low-income students, key report shows
A new report shows substantial gains in the number of college degrees and credentials conferred in Kentucky, especially at the undergraduate level. However, as graduation rates ticked upward, some achievement gaps widened, especially among low-income college students.
Those were two of key findings of the the Council on Postsecondary Education’s state-level 2010-11 accountability report, which shows “progress made in key areas and outlines numerous challenges that lay ahead in building the adult and higher education networks needed to drive Kentucky’s growth and development,” council president Robert L. King wrote in the report.
The report measures progress toward meeting House Bill 1 (1997) goals and the state’s strategic agenda for postsecondary and adult education. It measures 31 performance targets in the following four priority areas: college readiness; student success; research, economic and community development; and efficiency and innovation.
“This report provides to citizens, policy makers and our campuses clear, concise information describing specific goals and whether progress is being made toward their achievement,” said council president Bob King.
The state targets reflect the level of progress needed to meet HB 1 goals, especially parity with the nation in educational attainment and quality of life. Benchmarking against other states helped guide the target-setting process, as well as a report issued last September by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems.
• GEDs, associate and graduate-level degrees are on track to meet state targets by 2014, and bachelor degrees are making progress.
• The financial support necessary for student success eroded at the state level, with declines in state appropriations and in the availability of need-based ﬁnancial aid. Federal investment in the Pell grant program provided stability in the net direct cost of education for low-income students.
• Some progress was made in the college readiness focus area, although less than would be needed to meet the aggressive 2015 goals established in Senate Bill 1 (2009). Of particular concern is the need to improve new teacher excellence, given the key role higher education plays in training P-12 educators. Adult education saw a strong increase in the number of GED graduates and is well on its way to reaching its 2015 target.
• Key measures of higher education’s impact on economic and community development – the educational attainment of young adults and completions in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health – both improved. However, research and development were ﬂat, largely in response to decreases in federal research expenditures.
• Instruction at Kentucky’s institutions of higher learning continues to innovate, as seen in the strong growth of online learning. Officials are committed to improving how efficiency, an important dimension in postsecondary education, is measured and reported.
The report also includes descriptions of council and campus efforts to reach performance targets.
The report is available on the CPE website.
From Ky. Council on Postsecondary Education