The Commissioners should recommend strategies to ensure students are prepared for future growth at each stage in the educational pipeline. Specifically, the Commissioners should consider:
- Strategies for strengthening dual credit offerings, ensuring rigor, and creating clear pathways toward credentials of value for dual credit students;
- Factors that contribute to students’ decisions not to enroll directly in college or workforce training following high school graduation;
- Strategies for measuring and increasing completion rates at community colleges, including non-credit certificate programs; and
- Strategies for increasing the number of Texans who complete high-value, high-quality credentials among populations who previously stopped out or dropped out of educational institutions.
To increase completion rates in Texas, a number of strategies have been identified related to dual credit evaluation, direct college enrollment, community college completion rates, and postsecondary credential completion. While Texas has seen increases in the number of residents with a certificate or degree in the last few years, we are not making progress at the pace needed to achieve our 60x30TX goals on time. For example, the average rate of increase from 2016 to 2018 was 0.8 percent, while a 1.3 percent annual increase is needed to reach the 2030 target of 60 percent. The annual rates of increase for underrepresented groups, including African American, Hispanic, and economically disadvantaged students, are even further from the necessary rates.
Many students that begin an academic or workforce program fail to complete a credential; others spend more time and resources than necessary to finish their programs, amassing unnecessary debt or delaying entry into their desired career paths. Focusing on how we can help students overcome obstacles and complete high-value credentials will not only help the state achieve its higher education and workforce goals but will equip students with the tools necessary to obtain in-demand, high-wage employment.