Pledges to Significantly Increase College Completion by 2020
Continuing its strides in increasing the number of students graduating from college, Oklahoma has joined with Complete College America, a national nonprofit organization focused on raising degree attainment.
Oklahoma, along with 20 other states, form Complete College America’s Alliance of States, a select group of leading states working to dramatically increase the number of young adults with a college degree or credential, to set degree goals and develop and implement aggressive state- and campus-level action plans to meet those goals.
“In today’s evolving economy, it is more critical than ever to produce college graduates,” said Gov. Brad Henry. “A degree significantly increases an individual’s earning power, and a highly educated workforce attracts the best jobs and economic opportunities. But, it’s not enough just to pursue a higher education; we have to make sure our students graduate and enter the economic marketplace with a degree in hand.”
Relatively unchanged for decades, the rate at which Americans complete postsecondary degrees falls short of the country’s needs and potential. However, over the last five years, Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities have been making great strides to increase the number of graduates in the state. According to the latest Degrees Conferred in Oklahoma Higher Education report, 24,211 students received associate and bachelor’s degrees from Oklahoma public colleges and universities in the 2008-09 academic year. This is a 27.4 percent increase in graduates over the last eight years.
“Producing more college graduates in Oklahoma has always been a top priority of our state system of higher education,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “Through our initiatives such as Reach Higher, Oklahoma’s Promise, cooperative alliances and Oklahoma Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPAS), Oklahoma has been able to succeed in its mission. By joining the Complete College America initiative, Oklahoma can share its successes and learn from other states to continue our positive trend of providing the state and nation with a highly educated workforce.”
“Oklahoma’s ‘Brain Gain’ strategic plan is nationally acclaimed for its visionary commitment to making student success in higher education a significant statewide priority,” said Stan Jones, president of Complete College America. “Gov. Henry’s sustained focus and the leadership of the State Regents for Higher Education have shown great results. Today, Oklahoma is among only a dozen states that have increased the percentage of adults with bachelor’s degrees in this decade. By joining Complete College America’s Alliance of States, the governor has boldly committed Oklahoma to accomplishing even more: greater student success, a higher return on taxpayers’ investments and more college graduates for the benefit of all.”
Established in 2009, Complete College America will provide Oklahoma with tangible and practical support to help implement a range of strategies that will bring needed changes in the culture and practices of its public postsecondary institutions. To join the Alliance, a state – in partnership with its colleges and universities – must pledge to make college completion a top priority and commit to:
- Setting state- and campus-specific degree and credential completion goals.
- Developing and implementing aggressive state- and campus-level action plans for meeting the state’s completion goals.
- Collecting and reporting common measures of progress toward the state’s completion goals.
Alliance states will receive in-depth technical support from America’s leading experts on improving college success, including assistance in building consensus for reform and developing policy action plans; guidance on applying for and effectively using federal funding to produce more degrees; and annual networking opportunities.
Five national foundations are providing multi-year support to Complete College America, including the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Lumina Foundation for Education.
For more information on Complete College America, visit www.completecollege.org.