Nation Making Baby Steps in Improving College Completion Rate

In recent years, the nation has been focused on raising the college graduation rate, as countless students start school but fail to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree. During an August 2010 speech, President Barack Obama told his audience at the University of Texas that he hoped to raise the U.S. graduation rate to 60% in 10 years, producing at least 8 million additional college graduates, ABC News reports. In doing so, the president said the nation would better be able to compete with other countries.

Obama told his audience that in only one generation, the U.S. fell from first place in the percentage of adults who hold at least an associate's degree to 12th place.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told ABC that Americans cannot be complacent when it comes to higher education.

"We got a little self-satisfied and other countries have, I think, out-worked us," Duncan said. "They have out-invested. They have taken this more seriously, and I think this is a wake-up call."

Some states have more adults who have not finished college than others. In New Jersey, for example, about 44% of residents have at least an associate’s degree, the New Jersey Newsroom reports. However, almost 20% of adults between the ages of 25 and 64 started college but never finished.

In a new report, the Center for Women and Work (CWW) at the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University plans to outline inexpensive ways the state can increase its graduation rate.

"An educated workforce is important to New Jersey’s economic viability," said Heather McKay, co-author of the report and director of CWW’s Innovative Training and Workforce Development Research and Programs. "With an associate’s degree and every additional credential after, workers are given the opportunity to earn more and improve their career prospects. Yet, despite benefits to workers and the overall economy, graduation rates are not growing fast enough to meet expected demand."

Officials in Colorado are also hoping to improve their college completion rate, Education News Colorado reports. Recently, the state House Education Committee approved House Bill 12-115, which proposes ways to boost the number of degree holders in the state through the creation of a more flexible remediation system and an increase in students’ incentives to finish college.

Specifically, the bill would require the Colorado Commission on Higher Education to adjust entrance requirements to better identify students who need remedial help. Additionally, four-year schools would be allowed to offer more remediation courses that work around students’ busy schedules.


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