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ANSI Board Member Keith Bird Leads Education Initiative Championed by White House


New York, May 05, 2011

Taking an important step to improve the quality of U.S. community colleges and strengthen the American workforce, American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Board Member Keith Bird joined Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Jane Oates, assistant secretary for employment and training administration at the U.S. Department of Labor, in announcing the first round of schools chosen to compete for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

One hundred and twenty community colleges – the nation’s top ten percent – were selected by the Aspen Institute for exceptional student performance to compete for the $1 million inaugural purse. Announced by President Barack Obama at the White House Summit on Community Colleges in October 2010, the privately-funded Aspen Prize seeks to recognize, reward, and inspire outstanding outcomes in community colleges nationwide, and to contribute to the development of clear, high-quality benchmarks.

Creating excellence in community colleges is an important component of President Obama’s goal to lead the world in college graduates by 2020 and better prepare the American workforce to compete globally. More than six million youth and adult learners enroll in America’s community colleges every year.

“Unprecedented numbers of students are choosing to attend community college as the cost of four-year college grows increasingly out of reach for many families in America,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “To ensure student success and fuel economic growth for communities and the nation, community colleges must—now more than ever—make a commitment to excellence and stronger student outcomes.”

“The country is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of community colleges in educating our way to a stronger America,” noted Dr. Biden, a lifelong educator and community college professor.

The 120 community colleges were selected from a pool of nearly 1,200 U.S. community colleges using publicly available data on student outcomes. The data was analyzed by an expert advisory committee co-chaired by Dr. Bird, a senior policy fellow for workforce and postsecondary education at the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce.

In the next phase of the competition, the selected institutions will submit detailed data on completion rates, labor market outcomes, and student learning outcomes. Eight to ten finalists will be named in September; prize winners will be announced in December.

For more information, read the White House Blog or visit the Aspen Institute’s website.

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