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U.S. Chamber Rates States on Postsecondary Public Education

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for a Competitive Workforce today released a new edition of its state-by-state report card on public postsecondary education, and no state earned an A in even a majority of categories.

In its Leaders & Laggards series, the Chamber looks at two- and four-year institutions in every state on six measures:

1. Student access and success;

2. Efficiency and cost-effectiveness;

3. Meeting labor-market demand;

4. Transparency and accountability;

5. Policy environment; and

6. Innovation.

(An interactive map on the chamber's website allows users to click on individual states to view the grade by category.)

Lowest grades were most common in areas of transparency and accountability. The report found that just 22 states had a system in place to track college graduates once they entered the workforce.

When it comes to completion, Washington state, California, and Florida earned the highest grades with 70 percent of students finishing at four-year colleges. Otherwise, graduation rates hovered around 50 percent. The report found in 17 states, less than half of all first-time, bachelor's-degree-seeking students completed a degree within six years.

At two-year schools, only one state—South Dakota—had a graduation rate above 50 percent. There were 33 states with two-year graduation rates below 25 percent and 13 states below 15 percent.

Leaders in efficiency and cost-effectiveness in the report were Colorado, Oregon, Texas,and Virginia.

The best states in terms of transparency and accountability were Connecticut, Minnesota, and Texas.

The chamber recommends that state policymakers find solutions to improving higher education by focusing on performance and transparency.

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