Wyoming plans to tie dollars to pass rate

Starting in 2015, Wyoming plans to link $12 million in community college funding to pass rates rather than enrollment.

Currently, only 28.7 percent of first-time, full-time students graduate in three years from the state’s two-year colleges.

“Everybody agrees we got to do better,” said Jim Rose, executive director of the state’s Community College Commission. “It’s not good enough to get these students in the door and then let them languish in remedial education or spend all this time just swirling around and never gaining any real credential or degree.”

Most states will spend more on higher ed

Thirty states will spend more on high er education in the current fiscal year, but overall state spending is down 0.4 percent, according to an annual survey by Illinois State University and the State Higher Education Executive Officers. Since fiscal 2008, state higher education spending has declined nearly 11 percent.

New Mexico will spend a measly 0.1 percent percent more: energy-rich Wyoming will boost spending by nearly 14 percent. But Florida will cut higher ed spending by 8 percent.

In California, where state money for colleges fell nearly 6 percent from the year before, Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, has proposed increasing state funds for the public-college systems by 4 percent to 6 percent in the coming fiscal year. As in many other states, that proposal came with the expectation that state colleges will keep tuition flat and increase their efficiency in producing graduates.

During the past five years, more than a dozen states have cut college funding by more than 20 percent. Arizona (37 percent) and New Hampshire (36 percent) have cut the most.

“Barring a further downturn in the economy, the relatively small overall change … suggests that higher education may be at the beginning stages of a climb out of the fiscal trough caused by the last recession,” says a news release accompanying the survey data.

However, a new report from Moody’s Investors Services predicts tough times for higher education with stagnant state funding, student resistance to tuition increases and a declining number of high school graduates.

Wyoming: CCs need single remediation standard

Wyoming Superintendent Jim McBride wants the state’s community colleges to agree on a common standard for judging whether students need remedial classes, reports the Gillette News-Record: Today.

“The real reason we have a remedial problem is because there is no real connection between graduation requirements and college admission requirements,” McBride said on a campaign trip through Gillette on Friday.

. . . “The Community College Commission’s strategic plan, which we helped with, will help that,” he said. “And so will the P-16 Council.”

The P-16 council is supposed to align Wyoming high school standards with the state’s post-secondary admission standards.

In three years, McBride hopes the recently adopted Common Core Standards will make Wyoming curricula more rigorous and state graduates better prepared for higher education.

“We need to make sure that the common core standards butt up against standards at WyoTech, the university and the community colleges so everybody is ready to take the next step forward,” he said.

Wyoming offers Hathaway scholarships good at community colleges and the University of Wyoming to students who take the “success curriculum,” and earn a minimum GPA and ACT score. However, 15 percent of Hathaway Scholars require remedial classes.

The class of 2011 is the first class to have the success curriculum available for all four years of high school. McBride hopes fewer scholars will need remediation in the future.