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Posted at 1:42 PM ET, 12/ 3/2010

Md. community colleges pledge more graduates

By Daniel de Vise

Leaders of Maryland's 16 community colleges pledged Friday to increase the number of degrees they award by nearly two-thirds by 2025, part of a state and national movement to raise the college completion rate.

The "Promise to Act," signed by the presidents of all 16 colleges and announced at a noon news conference, is a response to the White House Summit on Community Colleges this fall.

The Obama administration wants two-year colleges to generate 5 million additional degrees and certificates in 10 years toward a national goal of regaining the world lead in college completion.

Maryland has set a separate goal that 55 percent of adults hold college degrees by 2025. Meeting it would require more than 20,000 additional degrees.

Virginia higher education leaders are evidently announcing a similar goal today.

The goal embraced Friday by the community colleges is to add 7,300 degrees by 2025, bringing the annual total to 18,500. Internal data show that the state's two-year colleges have a "success rate" of about 50 percent: Roughly half of students complete their degrees or transfer to four-year schools within four years.

"We think this is an aggressive goal but also one that is not so divorced from reality that no one will take it seriously," said Clay Whitlow, executive director of the Maryland Association of Community Colleges.

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By Daniel de Vise  | December 3, 2010; 1:42 PM ET
Categories:  Attainment, Community Colleges  | Tags:  American Graduation Initiative, Maryland community colleges, college completion, community college graduation completion  
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