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Jan 16, 2014

President Gray Attends White House Summit on Expanding College Opportunity

The summit examined college readiness, student success, and alignment between education and economic growth.

Dr. Gregory W. Gray, President of the Board of Regents for Higher Education (BOR), today joined President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, National Economic Policy Council officials, and business and nonprofit leaders at the White House Summit on expanding college opportunity. The summit examined college readiness, student success, and alignment between education and economic growth.

"Connecticut state colleges and universities play a significant role in the intersection between higher education and economic development"Dr. Gray

“I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone—and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward in helping to make sure our kids are getting the best education possible and make sure that our businesses are getting the kind of support and help they need to grow and advance, to make sure that people are getting the skills that they need to get those jobs that our businesses are creating,” said President Obama on Tuesday. 

Connecticut was invited to attend the summit due to the state’s leadership in aligning the education agenda with workforce development needs, as well as significantly increasing the number of remedial students who successfully complete college-level courses in an academic year.

“Connecticut’s attendance at the Summit demonstrates an appreciation for our efforts to turnaround low-performing schools and provide high-quality educational opportunities to all students,” said Governor Dannel P. Malloy. “It is essential that we continue to place a greater emphasis on curricula that will help young people entering college focus on their goal of graduating in a timely manner, so that we can turn out a workforce that is trained for 21st Century jobs.”

“Connecticut state colleges and universities play a significant role in the intersection between higher education and economic development,” said Dr. Gray.  “As the state’s system of higher education, we are an economic driver—80 percent of our students remain in Connecticut to work and live.  But we are also the state’s strongest and most agile resource when it comes to preparing a skilled labor pool—from degree-seeking students to incumbent worker re-training, our institutions provide rigorous educational opportunities that ensure our students are ready to compete in the global marketplace. I applaud President Obama for convening these stakeholders today and thank him for his commitment to higher education and economic growth.”

“The College Opportunity Summit is an important part of the administration’s work to team up with leaders from a variety of backgrounds to share ideas and commitments for making college more affordable and accessible – and ultimately ensuring all students have the opportunity to pursue their interests,” said Secretary Duncan. “By convening college and university presidents, policy leaders, and stakeholders from across the country, we are working to take another step toward building a system of higher education that effectively serves the needs of all students.”

Over the next year, Connecticut will continue to strengthen college readiness efforts currently underway. The Board of Regents, the governing body for the 17 institutions that constitute the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities system, is currently conducting 139 mathematics and English pilot programs that offer support to under-performing students and additional assistance as they transition to more rigorous coursework. The pilot programs also consider multiple measures when identifying course placement, rather than the single measure currently used.  Pilot data is expected at the end of each semester and will be used to identify strong programs that can be duplicated among system schools. 

Connecticut will also host two conferences, the Multiple Measures Summit, which will offer guidance on placement assessment in the community college system, and the Remediation Conference, which will outline the best practices of the intensive, embedded, and transitional remedial education pilot initiatives.

"It is imperative that we work together as a country to ensure more Americans are able to obtain a college degree or credential of value, and transforming college remediation is a powerful element of that work," said Complete College America President Stan Jones. "We are very proud that Connecticut, along with 23 members of our Alliance of States, is committed to achieving a significant increase in the number of college students assigned to remediation who successfully complete college-level work within their first year."

In addition to developmental education initiatives, President Gray and State of Connecticut Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor recently convened an Early College Task Force to study early college learning and make recommendations on expanding these initiatives in Connecticut community colleges. Offering high school students a head start on college coursework, early college programs are designed to improve student success in college, and are expected to increase the likelihood that students continue their education post-high school and decrease the need for remedial education.