The Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program recently selected five of North Carolina’s community colleges as being in the top 10% in the nation. The five honored schools were Surry Community College in Dobson, NC, Coastal Carolina Community College in Jacksonville, NC, James Sprunt Community College in Kenansville, NC, Cleveland Community College in Shelby, NC and Davidson County Community College in Thomasville, NC.
The selection was based upon publicly available data that demonstrated the highest levels of performance on three key metrics; student outcomes, change over time, and equity in student achievement. However, this ranking is only the first of four phases in a competition for a $1 million dollar prize. In the next phases, the selected colleges must submit additional data on student outcomes, withstand a site visit and an expert analysis of the quantitative data by prominent former officials, national business and civic leaders, and former community college leaders. Finally, one winner and two runner-ups will be selected to share in the prize money.
Improving community college completion rates has been identified by the Obama administration as a vital national priority and a key to high-wage career opportunities and further education. In response to the President Obama’s leadership and recognition of the education and workforce imperatives facing our country, the Aspen Institute, the Joyce and Lumina Foundations, and the charitable foundations of Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase have partnered to launch the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.
The purpose of the Aspen Prize is to recognize community colleges with outstanding academic and workforce outcomes in both absolute performance and improvements over time. By focusing on student success and lifting up models that work, the prize will honor excellence, stimulate innovation, and create benchmarks for measuring progress.
To read more about the Aspen Prize and the local winners, click here.
To read Surry Community College’s press release, click here.