December 22, 2014
“College success hinges on preparedness, Rep. Cohen”

“Re: ‘Tennessee Promise, well-intentioned but doomed to fail,’ by Rep. Steve Cohen, Dec. 15

Recently, Rep. Steve Cohen expressed concerns regarding community college graduation rates and the new Tennessee Promise program, which provides every graduate of a Tennessee high school the opportunity to attend one of Tennessee’s Community Colleges, a Tennessee College of Applied Technology or even one of several four-year universities that offer associate degree programs tuition-free for two years.

We agree with him that more needs to be done to help more low-income students pursue post-secondary education of any kind, but we shouldn’t characterize the valuable opportunities students receive at our community colleges by narrowly focusing on graduation rate statistics. A close look at the differences in admissions policies and the makeup of the student bodies helps explain why graduation rates aren’t the best indicators of quality for open-access schools like our community colleges.

One bright feature of community colleges is their open admissions policy. While other types of colleges and universities are often more selective, our community colleges admit any high school graduate – regardless of background or ACT score — who completes the application process. This provides all Tennesseans the opportunity for a quality education and to earn the credentials they need to find a good-paying job…”

Read the full article here.