South Louisiana Community College is among 150 community colleges across the country eligible for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.
The $1 million Prize, awarded every two years, is the nation's signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America's community colleges and recognizes institutions for exceptional student outcomes in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.
"We work with diligence each day on student performance, retention, and success," said Dr. Natalie Harder, SLCC chancellor. "The success of our students is dependent on our excellence in instruction and integrity in our program offerings. We are honored to be recognized by the Aspen Institute and listed among the top community colleges eligible for this prestigious award."
The Aspen Institute identified the top 150 community colleges through an assessment of institutional performance, improvement, and equity on student retention and completion measures. They were selected from a national pool of over 1,000 public two-year colleges using publicly available data on student outcomes.
The formula used to select the colleges was devised by expert analysts at the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems in consultation with an expert advisory committee convened by the Aspen Institute.
SLCC and other eligible community colleges have been invited to submit applications containing detailed data on degree/certificate completion (including progress and transfer rates), labor market outcomes (employment and earnings), and student learning outcomes. Each must demonstrate that they deliver exceptional student results for all students – including those from racial minority and/or low-income backgrounds – and also use data to inform decisions and continually improve over time.
Ten finalists will be named in fall 2014. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data, including employment and earnings data from states and transfer data from the National Student Clearinghouse. A distinguished Prize Jury will select a grand prize winner and a few finalists with distinction in early 2015.
"Community colleges have tremendous power to change lives, and their success will increasingly define our nation's economic strength and the potential for social mobility for every American," said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, in a press release. "This competition is designed to spotlight the excellent work being done in the most effective community colleges, those that best help students obtain meaningful, high-quality education and training for competitive-wage jobs after college. We hope it will raise the bar and provide a roadmap for community colleges nationwide."
Other Louisiana community colleges on the list include Northwest Louisiana Technical College in Minden and Sowela Technical Community College in Lake Charles.
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues.
It partners with the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, and the Lumina Foundation to support the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.