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Tennessee Joins National Alliance To Increase Degree Completion

Press Release from the Gov. Phil Bredesen Administration, March 3, 2010:

17 States Join ‘Complete College America’ To Make College Completion A Top Priority

NASHVILLE – Governor Phil Bredesen today announced that Tennessee will join efforts with Complete College America, a national nonprofit organization working to dramatically increase the number of young adults with a college degree or credential. Tennessee will join 16 other states to form the Complete College Alliance, a group of leading states committed to significantly increasing the number of students successfully completing college and closing attainment gaps for traditionally underserved populations. Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia have also joined the Alliance.

“Tennessee is well positioned to be a leader in this area because of the work we already have underway to achieve the goal of improved college completion rates,” Bredesen said. “We know what’s at stake if we don’t do better. Our economy hinges on our ability to develop a more skilled workforce and, more fundamentally, to give our kids a quality education so they can earn a good living. I’m pleased Tennessee has the opportunity to become even more involved in this effort.”

The early efforts of Bredesen and other state policy makers positioned Tennessee to be among the first to sign on to Complete College American’s reform agenda. In January, lawmakers capped a year-long effort to comprehensively restructure the state’s system of colleges and universities with the special session passage of the “Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010.” The legislation includes a new approach for funding higher education based on graduation rates and eliminates remedial programs at four-year institutions. Instead, all remediation will be conducted at the state’s 13 community colleges through new dual-enrollment guarantees.

As a member of the Alliance, Tennessee will receive 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. Alliance states will also receive in-depth technical support from America’s leading experts on improving college success, including assistance in building consensus for reform, developing policy action plans and guidance on applying for and effectively using federal funding to produce more degrees.

“The long-term economic growth of any state is tied to the educational attainment of its citizens,” said Stan Jones, president of Complete College America. “Reform-minded states like Tennessee are taking the lead in addressing this serious national issue head on. The implications of ‘business as usual’ are too great not to act. That’s why the leadership of Governor Bredesen and the state of Tennessee will have such a profound impact.”

The Volunteer State lags the nation in completion of bachelor’s degrees, ranked 40th, and associate degrees, ranked 45th. On average, only 46 percent of full-time students at four-year schools graduate within six years, and only 12 percent of full-time community college students attain associated degrees within three years.

For more information, visit http://completecollege.org/.

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