DENVER – Faced with dire economic circumstances, policymakers at the state level are searching for innovative ways to promote student achievement and develop creative ways to promote student achievement and college completion. With less funding, how do we continue to provide excellence in education from K–16, and ensure that 55 percent of Americans hold a postsecondary degree by 2025? That was the topic addressed at the Colorado state capital today in a meeting of policymakers, educators and business leaders convened by the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center in collaboration with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).
Hosted by Director Henry Sobanet with the Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting, former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer and College Board President Gaston Caperton, the Colorado state capital event was the second stop of the College Completion Agenda: State Capitals Campaign, a yearlong, multi-state campaign to mobilize the nation to increase the proportion of Americans that hold a postsecondary degree by 2025.
Nationally recognized as a leader in education reform, the state of Colorado was selected for the State Capitals Campaign for its emphasis on P-20 policies, including early education, eliminating school dropouts and improving teacher quality. Currently, Colorado’s college completion rate is 41.5 percent among 25- to 34-year-olds who hold a postsecondary degree. The national goal is 55 percent by 2025, Colorado ranks 19th among the 50 states working toward this goal.
The event program included distinguished speakers and a dynamic panel discussion moderated by David Longanecker, president of WICHE. At today’s event, participants from across the state of Colorado, representing every sector of education, joined together in support of the “55 percent by 2025” college completion goal. Participants also engaged in a conversation about ways to advance the policies and practices that drive excellence in our schools and universities and improve college success in the face of budget constraints, rising costs and expanding enrollment.
- Henry Sobanet, Director, The Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting
- Gaston Caperton, Former Governor of West Virginia and College Board President
- Roy Romer, Former Governor of Colorado, Senior Advisor, The College Board, and former Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District
- Nancy Todd, State Representative, Colorado
- Julie Bell, Education Program Director, National Conference of State Legislatures
- Diana Sirko, Deputy Commissioner, Learning and Results, Colorado Department of Education
- Nancy McCallin, President, Colorado Community College System
- Linda Barker, Director, Teaching and Learning, Colorado Education Association
- Tom Boasberg, Superintendent, Denver Public Schools
- Jill Barkin, Vice President of Philanthropy, JP Morgan Chase, Colorado Succeeds
- Paul Lingenfelter, President, State Higher Education Executive Officers
“As a new economic landscape comes slowly into focus, it is becoming clear that a college degree is more than ever a passport to opportunity and success,” said College Board President Gaston Caperton. “That’s why it is absolutely critical for us to reach our 55 by 25 goal and ensure that the United States is the world leader in education for yet another century.”
“There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that for our citizens and nation to stay globally competitive, we must increase the number of adults with postsecondary credentials,” said Diana Sirko, deputy commissioner, Colorado Department of Education. “That starts with excellent early learning options, a strong K-12 system, and Colorado’s continued focus on the collaboration between P-12 and higher education, working together to provide all the skills and tools necessary for our children’s success in the future.”
“Much of the energy devoted recently to increasing the success of college students, as defined by completing college, has focused on the need of America for more graduates to remain globally competitive,” said David Longanecker, president of the WICHE. “And, indeed, that is very important. But equal important is the value to each of those individuals who does graduate. On average they will be wealthier, healthier, happier, and more engaged in their community. We owe it to them to give them that quality of life.”
“All around the country, state legislators are focused on designing strategies that can improve college completion. They are doing this in an extraordinarily difficult fiscal environment – but they know that education is an important investment in their state's future,” said Julie Bell, education group director of NCSL. “These policies range from supporting early education to improving teacher and principal quality, reducing dropouts, ensuring students are college ready and supporting students to finish college and obtain a certificate or degree. Colorado has been a leader in designing creative approaches to these problems.”
To inform the conversation and help shape policies related to college completion, the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center referenced the following resources during the event for state policymakers and educators, including:
- Colorado-specific research and data points that highlight education progress within the state, and that can be tracked through www.completionagenda.collegeboard.org, an interactive website that provides comparative and customized data by state.
- The College Completion Agenda 2010 Progress Report and The College Completion Agenda: State Policy Guide in collaboration with NCSL. Released in July 2010, the Progress Report and the State Policy Guide chart the progress of the nation and each of the 50 states toward the common goal of significantly improving college completion by 2025. The Progress Report also points to areas of progress in states, but formidable challenges remain at every level of the system for students who aspire to enroll and succeed in college.
The State Capitals Campaign will include a series of high profile events in 2011 — roundtables, town hall meetings and summits — that bring together policymakers, educators, community and business leaders, media, students, and concerned citizens, all with the common goal of improving college completion rates by 2025. The first stop on the State Capitals Campaign was Maryland. Some of the upcoming state capital events will include visits to Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Massachusetts, New York and Texas.
Stephanie Coggin, the College Board, 212-713-8052, firstname.lastname@example.org
The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center was established to help transform education in America. Guided by the College Board’s principles of excellence and equity in education, the Center works to ensure that students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to succeed in college and beyond. Critical connections between policy, research and real-world practice are made to develop innovative solutions to the most pressing challenges in education today. Drawing from the experience of the College Board’s active membership consisting of education professionals from more than 5,900 institutions, priorities include: College Preparation & Access, College Affordability & Financial Aid, and College Admission & Completion. For more information, visit advocacy.collegeboard.org.
The National Conference of State Legislatures is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.