National report card grades Kentucky postsecondary education

Public postsecondary education in Kentucky received average or below-average grades in most categories included in a new national study, although two-year institutions generally performed better than the state’s four-year universities.

Leaders & Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card on Public Postsecondary Education was developed by the Institute for a Competitive Workforce, a subsidiary of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The institute described its national findings as sobering, with low college completion rates and inadequate means to measure the quality of postsecondary programs.

The assessment of Kentucky’s system will be the subject of two presentations at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Business Summit on July 17, 2012, in Louisville.

The report graded state performance and policy in six areas:

  1. Student access and success: Do institutions retain and graduate a high percentage of their students within a reasonable amount of time and ensure access for low-income students?
  2. Efficiency and cost-effectiveness: How much money do public institutions spend on education and related expenses per degree produced? How much state and local spending is needed to produce degrees?
  3. Meeting labor market demand: How much better do college graduates fare than their less-educated peers in terms of employment and wages?
  4. Transparency and accountability: Do states measure learning and labor market outcomes? Do they make information on institutions’ performance available to the public?
  5. Policy environment: Do state policies provide incentives to promote degree completion and allow students to transfer course credits within the system?
  6. Innovation: Have states made efforts to embrace innovative ways of delivering college instruction?

Kentucky’s highest grade was an A that two-year institutions earned for efficiency and cost-effectiveness. According to the report, the cost per completion of $38,141 and state and local funding per completion of $19,538 ranked Kentucky among the top 10 states nationally in that category.

The report noted that Kentucky’s retention rate, completion rate and credentials produced per 100 full-time equivalent undergraduates were well below national medians at the four-year level, but much better at two-year institutions with top-10 rankings on credentials produced per 100 full-time undergraduates and percentage of Pell recipients.

The efficiency and cost-effectiveness of four-year institutions put Kentucky among the bottom 10 states, with a funding per completion cost of $54,504. More detailed information about the results can be found in the full report.

The Kentucky Chamber’s Business Summit will feature a presentation onKentucky’s performance by Domenic Giandomenico, director of education and workforce programs for the Institute for a Competitive Workforce.

A group of education and business leaders will offer a response to the report following Giandomenico’s presentation. Participants in that panel discussion will include:

  • Alice Houston, president of Houston-Johnson, Inc., Louisville
  • Robert L. King, president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education
  • Former Gov. Paul E. Patton, president,University of Pikeville
  • Paula Hanson, director of tax services, Dean Dorton Allen Ford, PLLC, Lexington, who will serve as moderator

The Business Summit, set for July 16-17, 2012, at the Louisville Marriott Downtown, will also feature presentations on issues ranging from international trade to energy to workforce development.

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