Study Grades States On Higher Education

By: - November 30, 2000 12:00 am

Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, Minnesota, Kansas and Massachusetts get the highest grades in a new state-by-state report card that measures performance in higher education. According to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, these six states do the best job of preparing students for post-high school education, providing academic opportunities, making them affordable, attaining a high graduation rate and reaping the benefits of an educated workforce.

Arkansas, Louisiana, Nevada, Oregon, Tennessee and West Virginia got the lowest grades in the Center’s report, which is entitled Measuring Up 2000 the 188-page report concludes that your chances of getting a college education are dependent on where you live, your ethnicity, and your family income.

Since most higher education policy is determined by state legislatures, the report focused on grading the states. Nearly 80 percent of the nation’s students are enrolled at state schools which are dependent upon the government for funding, and states dole out over $3 billion a year in financial aid for students at public and private schools.

As a whole, state appropriations for higher education exceed $57 billion annually.

“The states bear primary responsibility for higher education policy and for support of higher education. And it is to the states, that Americans look to first for responsibility for elementary and secondary education that prepares their children to benefit from educational opportunities after high school,” North Carolina Governor James B. Hunt, said in the introduction of the report.”

Pew Charitable Trusts, the same grant-making organization that funds, partially financed the study.

Researchers evaluated the states and assigned grades of A to F based on the answers to these five questions: how well the state prepared kids to go to college? How many residents enroll in college programs? How affordable college is in each state? How many complete the college program? And, what economic and civic benefits does each state receive from the education of its residents?

Principal findings included:

  • A number of states do not offer high school students advanced placement and college prep courses.
  • Family income plays a major role in determining if a student goes to college. In California nearly 60 percent of students from high-income families go to college but only 33 percent of students from low-income households enroll.
  • People in some states shoulder a much higher share of the costs of college and students in some states have to borrow a lot more money than in other states.
  • Nationally, only half of full-time freshmen at four-year schools will earn a Bachelors’ Degree in five years.

The National Center hopes states will use the report card to assess and improve their university systems. “This state-by-state report card was developed to give the American public, elected officials, and the higher education community a measuring stick to compare higher education performance and opportunity across states,” said Hunt, who chairs the sponsoring group.

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