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Biden announces college completion tool kit

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​To help states develop college completion plans, the Obama administration on Tuesday released a breakdown of how many additional college graduates each state must produce for the U.S. to reclaim having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.

Speaking at the inaugural Building a Grad Nation Summit, Vice President Joe Biden called on governors to host state college completion summits, released a new college completion tool kit to serve states and governors and announced a new grant competition focused on helping colleges and universities improve completion rates.

“Right now, we’ve got an education system that works like a funnel when we need it to work like a pipeline,” Biden said. “We have to make the same commitment to getting folks across the graduation stage that we did to getting them into the registrar’s office.”

To meet President Barack Obama’s 2020 goal, the U.S. will have to increase the number of college graduates by 50 percent—turning out at least 8 million additional graduates by the end of the decade. About 5 million would come from community colleges.

The administration has developed a 30-page toolkit that identifies no-cost or low-cost strategies that governors can use, outlines related action steps and lists federal resources from which to draw. The strategies include aligning high school exit and college placement standards, linking state funding to college success in boosting completion rates, making it easier for students to transfer among colleges, and re-engaging adults with some college experience but no degree.

“The best jobs and fastest growing firms, whether in biosciences, technology, manufacturing, trade or entertainment, will gravitate to countries, communities and states with a highly qualified workforce,” noted Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “In order for America to lead the world, every governor will have to lead the way at home.”

Tying into the initiative, the U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday announced that it is accepting applications for the 2011 Comprehensive Grant Program, which is part of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education. The grant program will provide a total of $20 million to colleges to implement plans that can increase success and improve productivity at postsecondary institutions. It aims to award grants to innovative reform practices that can serve as national models.

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