VERSAILLES, Ky. (April 26, 2012) – The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program has selected five Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) colleges among the nation’s 120 best community colleges — top 10 percent in the country. The colleges include: Hazard Community and Technical College, Madisonville Community College, Somerset Community College, Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College and West Kentucky Community and Technical College.
The inaugural Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence was awarded to the Valencia College (Orlando, Fla.) in December, 2011. It was the first broad national recognition of extraordinary accomplishments at individual community colleges.
The KCTCS colleges were chosen from nearly 1,200 community colleges nationwide based on performance and improvement in the following areas: graduation rates, degrees awarded, student retention rates and equity in student outcomes. The colleges will now compete for the prestigious $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, following a year-long research process.
“This is an incredible honor for our five colleges and our System,” said KCTCS President Michael B. McCall. “In just 14 years, we have become the largest provider of higher education and workforce training in Kentucky. This recognition further qualifies we are well on our way to being the nation’s premier community college system.”
The 120 eligible institutions were announced at the annual convention of the American Association of Community Colleges in Orlando, Fla., on April 22.
“At a time when a college degree is essential to entering the middle class, community colleges offer the most promising path to education and employment for literally millions of Americans,” said Aspen Institute College Excellence Program Executive Director Josh Wyner. “This competition spotlights excellence and helps raise the bar for all community colleges to improve student achievement and better prepare the next generation for the job market after college.”
KCTCS selected 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.
In 2011, eight KCTCS colleges were selected among the nation’s top 10 percent, with West Kentucky Community and Technical College being a “finalist with distinction” for the first annual Aspen Prize.
Ten finalists for the 2013 prize will be named in September. The Aspen Institute will conduct site visits to each of the finalists in the fall. Based on this evidence, the prize “jury” will select a grand prize winner and four runners-up, to be announced in March 2013.
For a complete list of 120 eligible community colleges, visit AspenPrize.org.