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State colleges get low grades

Staff Report

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s report card on how well the nation’s public colleges and universities prepare students for the workforce had some sobering news for Alabama.

The state got mostly Ds and Fs. The state did receive an A for meeting its labor market demand.

Report cards for the 50 states were released Tuesday in Washington. They were based on a study by the Institute for a Competitive Workforce, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The study did not give a breakdown of individual colleges or universities, but looked at each state’s public higher education systems as a whole, giving separate assessments of the states’ four-year degree universities and two-year colleges.

Four-year and two-year schools in Alabama scored an A for meeting labor market demand.

The study said the median wage for graduates with a bachelor’s degree from an Alabama university is about $20,000, or 70 percent, more than the wages of those with only a high school diploma. Those with a two-year associate’s degree from an Alabama college made about $10,200, or 36 percent, more than those who only completed high school.

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But the report was more critical of Alabama in other categories.

The four-year and two-year schools got an F for transparency and accountability.

The report said “the state neither tracks student labor market outcomes, nor does it measure student learning in any systematic way.”

The four-year and two-year institutions also got Ds on efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

The four-year institutions received a D for their student retention and degree completion rates. The state’s two-year colleges received a C.

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