Report cards, math reforms to boost college completion rates
SPRINGFIELD – March 23, 2012. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon, State Sen. Kimberly Lightford, State Sen. Michael Frerichs and Women Employed are backing education reform bills that are designed to increase college completion rates and better prepare students for the workforce.
The Complete College reform package aims to improve college and career readiness, smooth transfers from community colleges to universities and make it easier for parents and students to compare higher education institutions.
The bills are being introduced following Simon’s fact-finding tour of the state’s 48 community colleges, and they reflect state and national efforts to boost graduation rates, build stronger relationships between schools and employers and move to a more transparent and accountable higher education system.
The Senate Higher Education Committee is expected to call the Sen. Lightford-sponsored legislation on college report cards and a college transfer audit for a vote on Monday. A third bill creating state-recommended math curriculum that aims to cut down remediation needs at college, sponsored by Sen. Frerichs, also will be called next week.
“Our reform package puts Illinois on track to have the best educated workforce in the nation,” said Simon, the Governor’s point person on education reform. “We want students to make informed choices. We want to send them to their chosen destinations ready to learn. And we want to make sure they transfer seamlessly between colleges, universities and the workforce. We’re approaching college completion from all angles, with the ultimate goal of graduating more students who are job ready.”
Sen. Lightford (D-Maywood) agreed to sponsor part of the Complete College Illinois reform package after successfully negotiating sweeping education reform bills last year, and Sen. Frerichs’ (D-Champaign) district is home to the state’s top university. The Complete College Illinois reform package will require collaboration among the K-12, community college, university and for-profit higher education systems.
“We want to continue our work to make higher education as accessible to Illinois’ working families as possible. That’s what this common sense legislative package is about,” Lightford said. “We’re seeking to make information more accessible and streamline the credit transfer process so that working families in Illinois have the information they need to choose the right school, and community college students can more easily make the transition to four-year institutions.”
“Employers in my district, and across the state, have called on the legislature to enact policies that would strengthen the standards that provide us with a top-notch educated work force,” Frerichs said. “The college reform package will raise those standards and reinforce our position as global leader in technology and agriculture.”
Women Employed, a nonprofit advocacy organization working to improve women’s economic status, backs Complete College reform package. It will help more women achieve the credentials they need to advance in their careers.
“Education is a very important factor in women being able to get good jobs and support families. And women who are trying to get ahead are wasting time and money on courses that they cannot transfer or programs that are not a good fit for them,” said Meegan Dugan Bassett, senior policy associate at Women Employed. “These bills will help make higher education in Illinois work better for the low- and middle-income families who need it most.”
The Complete College Illinois reform package contains three bills:
SB 3803 requires the higher education community to create a consumer report card that could contain information such as tuition and completion rates. The consumer report cards would be standard across all Illinois colleges and universities that accept students receiving state or federal financial aid. The P-20 Council will coordinate the project over two years, with input from education stakeholders across the state including the Illinois Community College Board and Board of Higher Education. SB 3803 will help students to make informed choices about where to attend college.
SB 3804 authorizes a comprehensive audit of transfers between community colleges and universities that accept students who receive state financial aid. The transcript audit will look for areas where transfer students are being denied credit for completed coursework and recommend ways to strengthen the state’s transfer system, known as the Illinois Articulation Initiative. SB 3804 will help students complete college on time and make better use of taxpayer dollars.
SB 3244 directs the Illinois State Board of Education to design math curriculum for high schools by March 2013. This would be the first-ever recommended statewide curriculum model for any subject. It would define the scope and sequence of study for math and math equivalent courses throughout a student’s high school years and could lead to early college enrollment. SB 3244 aims to better prepare students for post-secondary work and reduce expensive and time-consuming remedial math needs at colleges and universities.
Lt. Governor Simon, Experts to Gather on Capitol Hill to Release Latest College Attainment Report
and Discuss the Urgent Need to Redesign America’s Higher Education System
WHAT: Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon and the Lumina Foundation, the largest private foundation focused on enrolling and graduating more Americans from college, will release a new, third edition of the foundation’s signature report, A Stronger Nation through Higher Education. Detailed breakdowns of college attainment data will be made available at the national, state and county level. The report will also include attainment information for the nation’s 100 largest metro areas.
Experts will discuss: how America is doing as college completion rates continue to climb globally; what can be done to address tuition increases that have made the cost of a degree prohibitive for too many; what CEOs are saying about the availability of skilled workers as the economy improves, and much more.
Lumina Foundation selected Simon to represent Illinois in its Postsecondary Productivity Strategy Lab sites. The Strategy Labs provide policymakers in 22 states technical assistance on Lumina Foundation’s “Four Steps to Finishing First” reform agenda. The steps include performance funding, student incentives, new learning models and business efficiencies.
WHEN: Monday, March 26th
2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. CT
*A reception will immediately follow in the same room.
WHERE: Rayburn House Office Building
Committee on Education and the Workforce Hearing Room #2261
Members of the media who cannot join this news conference in person can participate via teleconference by dialing: (800) 230-1085.
WHO: Speakers to include:
· Lumina Foundation President and CEO Jamie Merisotis
· Illinois Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon
· Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce Director Tony Carnevale
· American Chamber of Commerce Executives President Mick Fleming
RSVP: Any member of the media can join the teleconference by dialing the number above.
QUESTIONS: You can reach Lucia Anderson at
or 317.951.5316 if you have any questions.
*The Stronger Nation report will be embargoed until 3:30 p.m. Monday, March 26.*