VERSAILLES, Ky. (Jan. 27, 2014) – The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program has selected four Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) colleges as being among the nation’s 150 best community colleges.
Hazard Community and Technical College, Madisonville Community College, Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College and West Kentucky Community and Technical College were chosen from nearly 1,000 community colleges nationwide based on performance and improvement in the following areas: graduation rates, degrees awarded, student retention rates and equity in student outcomes. After a year-long research process, colleges will compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize by demonstrating high standards for learning, college completion without delay and proving to be excellent training grounds for jobs that pay competitive wages.
“This is an incredible honor for our four colleges and our system,” said KCTCS President Michael B. McCall. “This recognition further qualifies the vital work our community colleges are doing to prepare our students for the high demand occupations of the 21st century.”
“Community colleges have tremendous power to change lives, and their success will increasingly define our nation’s economic strength and the potential for social mobility for every American,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “This competition is designed to spotlight the excellent work being done in the most effective community colleges, those that best help students obtain meaningful, high-quality education and training for competitive-wage jobs after college. We hope it will raise the bar and provide a roadmap for community colleges nationwide.”
The selected KCTCS colleges are now eligible to submit applications containing detailed data on degree/certificate completion (including progress and transfer rates), labor market outcomes (employment and earnings) and student learning outcomes. They must demonstrate that they deliver exceptional student results for all students – including those who come from racial minority and/or low-income backgrounds – and also use data to inform decisions and continually improve over time.
Ten finalists will be named in fall 2014. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data, including employment and earnings data from states and transfer data from the National Student Clearinghouse. A distinguished prize jury will select a grand prize winner and a few finalists with distinction in early 2015.
The 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence was awarded to co-winners Santa Barbara City College (California) and Walla Walla Community College (Washington). Valencia College (Florida) was the inaugural prize winner in 2011.
For a complete list of the 150 eligible community colleges for 2015 Aspen Prize, visit AspenInstitute.org.