Urgent call to action issued by state education officials, plan pushes increased degrees, certificates and credentials | MyWindsorNow.com

Urgent call to action issued by state education officials, plan pushes increased degrees, certificates and credentials

James Redmond
jredmond@greeleytribune.com

By 2025, state officials hope 66 percent of all Colorado adults have some sort of degree, certificate or higher education credential.

Colorado education officials described it as an urgent call to action in their newly released plan, "Colorado Rises: Advancing Education and Talent Development." The plan focused on making education more accessible, affordable and equitable for all state residents.

The Colorado Commission on Higher Education and Colorado Department of Higher Education released the statewide plan Tuesday with the support of Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, according to a news release from CDHE.

To reach the 66 percent goal, the plan details four strategies for Colorado's higher education institutions: increase credential completion, erase equity gaps, improve student success and invest in affordability.

University of Northern Colorado President Kay Norton and trustee Chairman Dick Monfort attended a meeting at the governor's mansion Tuesday to discuss the goals and the launch of the plan.

"We're all in on the goals, and, as has been the case through various administrations, our ongoing work at UNC dovetails with them," Norton said. "One of the takeaways is that we must continue to work with businesses and our surrounding community to identify opportunities, which is something the Campus Commons will address in serving as a connector."

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With a rapidly changing economy, experts estimate the demand for college-educated adults in Colorado is the fifth highest in the nation, according to the CDHE news release. Research from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce shows that by 2020 nearly 75 percent of jobs in Colorado will require some education beyond high school, yet only 55 percent of the adult population in Colorado has a degree or certificate.

"Our goal is clear and more important than ever. We must expand access to quality credentials to ensure that more Colorado residents have the skills, training and knowledge they need to succeed in the jobs of today and the future," Kim Hunter Reed, executive director of CDHE, said in the news release. "Critical to this work is our focus on erasing equity gaps, which is essential to expanding opportunity."

The plan emphasizes closing equity gaps among minority and white populations. The share of Colorado's white majority population that earned a credential is more than twice that of Hispanics and Latinos and about 1.5 times the share of African Americans, according to the release. In fact, the gap between white and Hispanics is the second largest in the nation, barely behind California's.

Lumina Foundation is finalizing a partnership with Colorado that will provide up to $500,000 over two years to support the state's efforts around increasing attainment among minority students, according to the release.

Higher education push

Tuesday, Colorado officials released statewide plan to increase postsecondary attainment and sets a statewide goal of 66 percent postsecondary attainment by 2025.

To read the full plan, go to masterplan.highered.colorado.gov.

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