WKCTC in Top 10 Again Among Community Colleges
By WestKyStar Staff
WASHINGTON, D.C. - For the second year in a row, West Kentucky Community and Technical College (WKCTC) in Paducah has been named one of ten finalists for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation's signature recognition of high achievement and performance in America's community colleges.
WKCTC now enters the last stage of the competition for the $1 million prize fund that will be awarded in March in Washington, D.C. to the winner and up to four finalists-with-distinction. Last year, WKCTC was honored as one of the top five finalists.
Selected from an original pool of more than 1,000 community colleges, the Prize recognizes the most outstanding institutions for achievements in four areas: student learning outcomes, degree and college completion, labor market success in students securing jobs after college, and minority and low-income student success.
West Kentucky Community and Technical College provides tremendous opportunities for students and the region alike, even as the area's job market has been contracting. Recent WKCTC graduates are employed at very high rates. The college has played a vital role in the region's economic development, supplying a robust local health care industry with the majority of nurses and other health care professionals, as well as creating new programs in response to the needs of local industries.
"WKCTC has demonstrated that it is a top community college for a second consecutive year" said Josh Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program. "Its leadership is driven to assess both community and student needs. By identifying barriers to student success and removing them, WKCTC is able to deliver custom-trained graduates who fit the bill for available jobs."
Nearly half of all college students attend community college, with more than seven million students - youth and adult learners - enrolled across America, including rapidly growing lower-income and Hispanic student populations.
With four-year colleges and universities costing from $10,000-$60,000 per year per student, community colleges, growing at over four times the rate of four-year colleges, remain the most affordable option in higher education for millions of people in this country. In fact, average tuition and fees at public two-year colleges increased 1.8% per year from 1999-2000 to 2009-2010 after adjusting for inflation, compared to 4.9% at public four-year colleges and universities.
The ten community colleges named as finalists were selected from an original national pool of over 1,000, and pared down to a list of 120 in April. An advisory committee expert in community college data and performance - co-chaired by William Trueheart, chief executive officer of Achieving the Dream, and Keith Bird, former college president and state community college system chancellor - devised a formula to select the 120 based on publicly available data. The formula considered three factors, each weighted equally:
* Performance (retention, graduation rates including transfers, and degrees and certificates per 100 "full time equivalent" students)
* Improvement (steady improvement in each performance metric over time)
* Equity (evidence of completion outcomes for minority and low-income students)
The Aspen Top Ten Finalists selected today reflect the diversity of America - from the large ethnically diverse Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, with 60,000 students, to the more homogeneous, small town Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, South Dakota with an enrollment of 1,500, from the urban Kingsborough Community College, part of the City University of New York, in Brooklyn to the suburban Brazosport College in Lake Jackson, Texas.
The full list of the finalists includes:
* Brazosport College, Lake Jackson, TX
* Broward College, Fort Lauderdale, FL
* College of the Ouachitas, Malvern, AR
* Kingsborough Community College - CUNY, Brooklyn, NY
* Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, SD*
* Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, CA*
* Santa Fe College, Gainesville, FL
* Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, Cumberland, KY
* Walla Walla Community College, Walla Walla, WA*
* West Kentucky Community and Technical College, Paducah, KY*
Four of the colleges on the list earned this distinction for a second straight year (indicated by an asterisk).