Our partners around Louisville are already working to improve education attainment. Recognizing that achieving the goal requires adding at least 40,000 more bachelor’s degrees and 15,000 more associate’s degrees, we commit to bring about the following objectives:
Create and support a college-going culture.
A college-going culture is established when all elementary students know the year they will graduate from college.
55,000 Degrees has promoted the value of a college degree through a wide range of channels – from news media to a new website rich with information aimed at guiding students, families and educators. Jefferson County Public Schools and community-based organizations are also spreading the message and promoting the value of college to all ages.
Where we stand
Both Jefferson County Public Schools and the Archdiocese of Louisville have made commitments to raise the profile of college.
Two measures of progress: high school graduation rates and enrollment in post-secondary institutions.
The JCPS graduation rate has fluctuated in recent years. For 2011, it dipped from 69.3 percent to 67.8 percent.
It remains lower than the state average – 78 percent last year – but better than most urban school districts around the nation.
The JCPS graduation rate decline is counter-balanced by a decline in dropouts. From 2007 to 2011, JCPS’s high-school dropout rate has been nearly cut in half, dropping from 6.4 to 3.7 percent.
JCPS nearly reached its goal for post-secondary enrollments: It aimed for 69 percent – and hit 67 percent.
More than 97 percent of students at Archdiocesan high schools enrolled in post-secondary schools – 100 percent is its goal.
Atkinson Elementary, in Louisville’s Portland neighborhood, could become a role model for elementary schools around Jefferson County. It is infusing a college-going culture into activities for all students. College pennants in the school’s hallways provide inspiration and every morning students recite the year they will graduate from college.
Atkinson principal Stephanie Nutter said, “Everyone in our school believes that every Atkinson student will attain a college degree.”
Atkinson is creating a culture where college is the expectation and students will be academically prepared to succeed.
Use the business community’s unique points of leverage to accelerate attainment.
Employers have resources, bargaining power and ability to provide employee support to help reach our goal.
Louisville has over 96,000 working-age residents who have started college – but have yet to complete their degrees – with their top earning years ahead of them.
For 55,000 Degrees, this group’s progress is critical. It is our most promising target group to reach our goal by 2020.
For employees, a new degree offers opportunities for personal and family satisfaction – and job promotion.
For employers, it improves the skill sets and capacity of workers and increases employee engagement.
The good news: college enrollment among Louisville’s working-age age adults continues to rise. The numbers jumped by 6,000 over the past two years – a substantial 24 percent increase.
Where we stand
The Greater Louisville Inc. Degrees at Work Program aims to provide leadership and support for working adults to return to college to complete their bachelor’s degrees.
Its goal: 3,500 employees will complete their degrees by 2014 – and 15,000
will hit that mark by 2020.
- The number of participating businesses climbed from 16 to 30 over the last year.
- Twelve of the 30 businesses have surveyed their employees and found more than 1,000 interested in attending college.
- Currently 245 employees are back at school on their way to degrees.
Degrees at Work has identified — and is addressing — key barriers to returning to college: uncertainties about cost, time commitment and the academic challenge of college work.
While Degrees At Work is making progress, increased cooperation from local businesses will go a long way toward helping the program and employees achieve their goals.
For more information, visit www.55000degrees.org/DegreesAtWork/
Prepare students for success in college, career, citizenship, and life.
A strong education system prepares students for their next step — from early childhood to adulthood, from school to work lives.
While there are signs of progress, many students emerge from high school without the skills they need for jobs or college.
Where we stand
More JCPS students were judged ready for college and career by the time they graduated from high school, according to school-system test scores – 45 percent, a 14 percentage point increase from 2010. This jump is due in part to greater local and statewide focus on college and career readiness – including new diagnostic interventions.
While the overall improvement is significant, this percentage is still unacceptably low.
School-by-school data continue to show sharp disparities among schools. At some, fewer than 1 in 4 students test as ready, while the majority are judged ready at other schools.
The good news: These lower-performing schools are already the focus of aggressive improvement plans.
JCPS has set a goal of 66 percent college-and-career ready by 2015 and 90 percent for 2020.
Another measure of college readiness – placement tests at colleges and universities – shows many students need remedial help before they can begin college-level coursework.
Eight in 10 students entering public two-year colleges are not ready.
One in 3 who attend public four-year institutions need remedial help.
These flat trend lines are disappointing to educators and frustrating for many students.
- Kentucky’s drive to align high-school curriculum with college expectations – and to assess student achievement against globally benchmarked common core standards – is expected to have a positive impact.
- Additionally, the increase in students taking Advanced Placement courses in high school prepares them for success in college.
Make postsecondary education accessible and affordable.
College is a major investment for any family. And the increase in tuition and fees substantially surpassed growth in family income in recent years.
College costs can be confusing – especially the difference between sticker price –
the total cost of tuition, fees and other expenses – and net price or the true out-of-pocket costs after grants and other financial aid.
Where we stand
The average total costs ranged from $10,833 to $37,645 per year. With grants and
financial aid, the average net price dropped to $6,517 to $23,240 per year.
- For-profit schools had the highest net price.
- Not-for-profit private schools came next, where more substantial institutional aid helped students.
- Public institutions carried the lowest average costs by far.
But net prices for students have held fairly steady, and in some cases have dropped.
At the same time, student loan default rates continue to rise — a marker of the financial stresses of college that can linger for years. Nationally, more than 13 percent of students who began repaying their loans in 2009 defaulted within three years.
The pattern is true locally as well — as many as 1 in 6 students at some institutions default on student loans. Students are increasingly failing to pay back their loans due to financial hardship, a lack of
understanding, or lack of information about deferment options. Increasing default rates hold back those who hope to re-enroll in college and finish their degree down the road.
Most likely to default: students at two-year public and for-profit institutions.
Least likely to default: students at four-year public and not-for-profit private institutions.
- JCPS has stepped up its college advisory support at all 21 high schools with weekly College Access Time – and a clear “college-is-for-all” focus. More than 60 certified counselors, supported by 70-plus college access providers, serve 26,000 students yearly.
- The KentuckianaWorks College Access Center has launched a new website at www.mykcac.org – and remains a source of inspiration and a critical one-stop resource for financial aid as well as college and career counseling services to 4,000 adults and youth in the region each year.
Increase educational persistence, performance and progress.
Louisville students start college in substantial numbers, but too many drop out after their first or second year.
Persistence matters because the odds of completing a degree go up dramatically if students stay on schedule and do not withdraw. Local post-secondary institutions are embracing strategies to help students persevere to achieve their goals.
Where we stand
College graduation rates have been edging upwards.
- At four-year colleges, students are twice as likely to graduate compared to students at two-year colleges.
- Roughly half of students at four-year institutions graduate in six years.
- At public two-year institutions, about 1 in 4 students finish in three years.
One important predictor of completion is how many students return for a second year:
- At four-year institutions, 3 out of 4 full-time students returned for their second year. part-time students made significant gains and increased persistence rates by 12 percent in 2010 from the previous year.
- At two-year institutions, roughly half of freshmen do not return for their second year – persistence rates have dropped a bit over the past year.
Colleges are using data to better understand who is dropping out, when and why — and develop programs and interventions to help them persist. Bellarmine’s Pioneer Scholars program to help first-generation students is showing promise, as is JCTC’s Change Makers and U of L’s Cardinal Covenant.