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More Students Are Now Prepared for College, Report Says

More Students Are Now Prepared for College, Report SaysSAN JOSE, Calif.
Many states have made substantial strides in preparing students for college-level education, but there have not been widespread gains in the proportion of Americans going to college, according to a report released this month by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. Measuring Up 2002: The State-by-State Report Card for Higher Education also finds that overall college opportunity in America is at a standstill, and remains unevenly and unfairly distributed.
The report measures the nation’s and each state’s performance in providing education and training beyond high school. Previous national and state-by-state results were released two years ago, in Measuring Up 2000.
“The largest gains since the 2000 report card are in preparing young Americans to be able to enroll in and succeed in college,” says Gov. James B. Hunt Jr., chair of the National Center’s Board of Directors and former governor of North Carolina. “Thirty states have improved their performance in college preparation. These improvements signal that these states are on the right path, but there are young Americans who still do not have the opportunity to prepare for and enroll in college.”
Measuring Up 2002 grades states in five key areas of higher education performance: preparation, participation, affordability, completion and benefits. Many states perform well in several areas, but no state receives straight A’s in providing opportunities for education and training beyond high school.
For the nation as a whole, college opportunity is at a standstill, according to the report.
“As a nation, we are doing better in preparing our young people for college than we are doing in assuring that they have opportunities to enroll in and complete programs of education and training beyond high school,” says Patrick M. Callan, president of the National Center. “This is reflected in the number of mediocre grades and the very modest improvements reported in Measuring Up 2002.”
For instance, according to the report:
• Seven states (Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico and South Carolina) improved their performance on all measures in enrolling young adults and working-age adults in college-level education and training.
• Eleven states improved their performance on all measures in providing affordable college education to their residents. Most of this progress may well have been lost in recent months, however, as states have responded to revenue shortfalls through steep tuition increases and insufficient investments in student financial aid.
• Only five states (Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, New Hampshire and Utah) improved their performance on all measures concerning the timely completion of certificates and degrees. From Measuring Up 2000 to Measuring Up 2002, the proportion of students completing certificates and degrees rose in Alabama from 18 to 24 per 100 undergraduate students, and in Arizona from 14 to 17.
• In only half of the states do more than 50 percent of first-year students at community colleges return for their second year.
• Completion of degrees at four-year colleges and universities is low, even among the top-performing states. In no state, do more than 70 percent of full-time students complete a degree within six years of enrolling in college.
Established in 1998, the National Center is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.

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