Putting Education Reform To The Test

Florida Gets Bragging Rights On National Higher Education Report Card


BOG Chairman Dean Colson

When people yell “We’re number 1!” about a Florida university, usually they’ve got a foam finger on their hand.

But a new national study from the Institute for a Competitive Workforce on university and college performance and policy is giving state higher ed leaders a new reason to crow.

Florida accomplished what no other state university system could on the report card: The state received an “A” for both four-year and two-year public institutions in the Student Access & Success category.

Criteria in the Student Access and Success category include:

  • Percentage of undergraduates receiving Pell Grants and need-based federal scholarships.
  • Retention rates of students who return to school after their first year.
  • Completion rates of students who complete their pursuit of degree or certificate within 150% of the normal time – 3 years for a two-year degree (AA) or certificate or 6 years for a bachelor’s degree (BA).
  • Completions per 100 full-time equivalent undergraduate students, which tracks only first time, full-time undergraduate students.
  • Risk-adjusted completion rates. This recognizes institutions for enrolling and graduating low-income students.
  • Membership in Complete College America. 30 states, including Florida, participate in this program designed to “close attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations.”

It’s good timing for the Board of Governors. The panel that oversees the State University System of Florida is holding its annual meeting in Orlando. The board is hearing work plans from the universities in an effort to cut costs and keep tuition down while producing higher quality programs.

Dean Colson, Chairman of the Board of the Governors, released this statement:

“This is yet another national recognition that our framework of accountability is taking hold, and I hope that the State’s investment in its four-year public institutions will return to a level one day so that we do not need to rely as significantly on student tuition as what has occurred during the past five consecutive years.”

ICW is an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The report card is part of ICW’s Leaders & Laggards series, which grades post-secondary institutions in these areas:

  • Student access and success
  • Efficiency and cost-effectiveness
  • Meeting labor market demand
  • Transparency and accountability
  • Policy environment
  • Innovation

Florida also did well in the Efficiency and Cost-Effectiveness category. The average cost to complete a degree at a four-year public university in Florida is $46,071, the lowest in the country.

Florida has room for improvement in “Meeting Labor Market Demand” and “Transparency and Accountability.” The state got C’s in those categories for two-year and four-year institutions.


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