2014 Public Agenda
Higher Education: Oklahoma's Road to Jobs and Prosperity
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The Purpose of the Public Agenda
The purpose of the public agenda is to provide a better understanding of the critical policy issues, goals and objectives that shape the direction of the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education. It is based on the needs of the state as identified through the ongoing strategic planning process, and it describes the major initiatives that are in place to achieve the policy objectives.
Key Policy Goals and Objectives
- Increase the number of college graduates.
- Enhance access and improve the quality of public higher education for all Oklahomans.
- Better prepare students to meet the challenges of a global economy.
- Implement Complete College America initiatives to increase the number of degrees and certificates earned in Oklahoma from 30,500 to 50,900 by 2023.
- Enhance capacity to successfully enroll, retain and graduate students.
- Increase systemwide efficiencies and cost savings.
- Strengthen financial support for Oklahoma college students.
- Improve instructional quality.
- Utilize performance funding to enhance student success and academic quality.
- Broaden economic development activities.
- Advance access to and quality of technologies to support systemwide programs and services.
Complete College America
Oklahoma is considered a national model because of the comprehensive way that state leaders have embraced the goals of the Complete College America initiative. The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education have identified college completion as their top priority. With a focus on promoting college readiness, transforming remediation, strengthening pathways to certificates and degrees, expanding adult degree completion efforts, and rewarding progress and completion, Oklahoma can expect a 67 percent increase in the annual number of degrees conferred by 2023.
Oklahoma’s Promise is recognized by many as America’s best college access program and is considered a model that combines emphases on academic preparation and financial support for college. Since 2001, Oklahoma’s Promise has grown from just over 2,000 qualifying students to 19,600 students receiving scholarships in FY 2013.
Nine of Oklahoma’s public regional universities and 14 public community colleges and technical branches offer on-campus and online class options and multiple enrollment periods. Depending on their career goals and the number of hours they have already earned, students can choose between an Associate in Arts or Associate in Science in enterprise development or a Bachelor of Science in organizational leadership. Additionally, many campuses are reviewing other existing degree programs that may be of interest to returning adults. With a Reach Higher degree, students receive the leadership training, communications skills and business knowledge they need to get ahead.
The state’s student information portal provides college planning and preparation information for students, parents and high school counselors. Through the site, students can create individual portfolios, access campus information, and apply for federal and state financial aid, among other features. In 2014 the State Regents will launch an exciting upgrade to OKcollegestart.org, which will include a free, robust career planning assessment, an updated user-friendly interface and the ability to link career information to the high school and college planning features.
College Access Challenge Grant Program
The College Access Challenge Grant Program is a federal program focused on projects that will significantly increase the number of students from underrepresented groups who are enrolled, retained and complete degrees in higher education. Funds are used in a variety of ways, including scholarships, development of degree completion curriculum, promotion of the EPAS program and OKcollegestart.org to school counselors, and providing support for the Oklahoma College Access Network.
The Oklahoma Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPAS) provides assessments of college readiness and helps teachers, students and families identify the need for academic readiness. School districts volunteer to participate in the program that includes three assessments, EXPLORE, PLAN and the ACT. EPAS serves 467 school districts and more than 90 nonpublic schools that serve 89,000 eighth- and 10th-graders. Improvements in many major areas have been documented, including ACT scores, college-going rates and remediation.
Twenty-nine technology centers across the state have partnered with 18 higher education institutions and branch campuses in cooperative alliance agreements. In the past year, Oklahoma students who took courses at technology centers earned more than 68,000 credit hours toward an Associate in Applied Science degree offered by a state system college or university.
Since its inception in 2005, the Concurrent Enrollment Tuition Waiver program has allowed outstanding juniors and seniors the opportunity to earn tuition-free college credit while still in high school. Most recently, more than 12,700 students enrolled in nearly 20,000 courses generating more than 102,000 credit hours.
OneNet operates Oklahoma’s most advanced technology network designed to provide the infrastructure to support high-speed broadband services with an equitable rate structure. Through leading-edge technology and a dedicated team, it currently provides high-speed Internet services and other networking solutions to meet the mission-critical needs of a variety of Oklahoma entities, including colleges and universities; K-12 and career technology schools; public libraries; local, tribal, state and federal governments; court systems; rural health care delivery systems; nonprofit organizations; and programs engaged in research. OneNet also operates the newly completed Oklahoma Community Anchor Network, which provides high-speed connectivity to rural communities in 35 Oklahoma counties.
Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education
P.O. Box 108850
Oklahoma City, OK 73101-8850