Putting Education Reform To The Test

Florida Community Colleges Compete For Cash And National Prestige


It’s sort of like making it to the Hollywood round on “American Idol.”

Fourteen Florida institutions made it through the first round of competition and will go on to compete for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

Given by the Aspen Institute, the prize goes to institutions that show outstanding academic and workforce outcomes.

Florida has more colleges competing for a share of the million dollar prize than any other state. “This competition looks at completion numbers, improvements over time and equity outcomes,” said Florida College System Chancellor Randy Hanna. “Our colleges excel in all these measures, and it’s an honor that they are being recognized for these important indicators of success.”

The semifinalists were chosen from a national pool of over 1,000 public two-year colleges after a year-long assessment. Information on student outcomes was analyzed for:

Performance – retention, graduation rates, and degrees and certificates per 100 “full time equivalent” students.

Improvement – steady improvement in each performance metric over time.

Equity – completion outcomes for minority and low-income students.

“Community colleges offer the most promising path to education and employment for literally millions of Americans,” said Josh Wyner, Aspen Institute College Excellence Program Executive Director. “This competition spotlights excellence and helps raise the bar for all community colleges to improve student achievement and better prepare the next generation for the job market.”

Florida’s contingent is part of 120 community colleges vying for the prestigious award. These colleges made the cut:

  •          Brevard Community College
  •          Broward College
  •          Chipola College
  •          College of Central Florida
  •          Indian River State College
  •          Lake-Sumter Community College
  •          Miami Dade College
  •          Northwest Florida State College
  •          Palm Beach State College
  •          Pasco-Hernando Community College
  •          Saint Johns River State College
  •          Santa Fe College
  •          South Florida Community College
  •          Tallahassee Community College

Ten finalists will be named in September. Prize winners will be announced in March 2013.

Florida holds bragging rights for the first Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. It went to Valencia College in Orlando in December 2011.


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