Thursday, June 21, 2012

Rural states do poorly on higher education report card

Public higher education is failing when it comes to preparing students for the workforce, a new study by the Institute for a Competitive Workforce has found. It graded each state on how well its public colleges and universities prepare students. Sonali Kohli of The Ithaca Journal reports that the states with the worst grades trend rural: Alaska, Nevada, Idaho and Louisiana.

The report used data from different sources from 2008 to 2012 and graded four-year and two-year schools separately. Among the findings: Washington state, California and Florida scored the highest grades; 12 states scored D's for student success at four-year schools: seven in the Great Plains, five in Appalachia and the South; the Dakotas' two-year schools out-performed all other states; and, completion rates at four-year schools were close to 50 percent in 47 states.

ICW President Margaret Spellings said colleges and universities are more worried about maintaining reputations than actually examining how they are performing. The report says states should "focus less on attracting new students and work harder at making sure students who are already enrolled get their degrees," Kohli reports. Spellings, a former secretary of education, said making it easier to transfer credits from community colleges to four-year schools and expanding online classes would help. Both are options that would be of particular importance in rural areas, where many attend community colleges and utilize online classes. (Read more)

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