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Lt. Gov. Simon Releases College Completion Playbook 

 
Innovative tools to increase college completion released at higher education conference

BLOOMINGTON – October 30, 2013 – To reduce costs and boost graduation rates at Illinois universities and community colleges, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon on Wednesday released a College Completion Playbook while hosting the two-day Scaling Up: Effective Practices in Higher Education invitational conference in Bloomington. More than 150 higher education administrators from around the state received the guide on effective practices from national experts and successful Illinois educators. During day two of the event, administrators will be asked to pick a new practice for their school and connect with a leading Illinois educator in that field. Attendees will get not just good ideas, but action plans.

“Illinois wins big when more of our students earn college credentials that translate to good-paying jobs in growing fields,” Simon said. “So this week, administrators from across the state are sharing their new and best practices.

Finding and recommendations of the College Completion Playbook include plans for:

• Reducing “credit creep” or the unnecessary credits students take to attain a degree. Modeled by Southern Illinois University.

• Increasing internship opportunities, preparing students to join the workforce and creating connections with future employers. Modeled by Illinois State University.

• Streamlining course credit transfers from one school to another. Modeled by Northern Illinois University and Waubonsee Community College.

• Identifying when students may be heading off course for graduation. Modeled by Northern Illinois University.

The conference is hosted in partnership with the Illinois Board of Higher Education, Illinois Community College Board, Illinois Student Assistance Commission, Lumina Foundation, College Productivity Strategy Labs, Complete College America, and Microsoft. Speakers will include: Jamie P. Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation, the nation's largest private foundation committed solely to enrolling and graduating more students from college; Harvard Graduate School Professor, Dr. Christopher Dede; Dr. Larry Abele, Provost Emeritus of Florida State University; and Illinois State University President Dr. Timothy Flanagan. Representatives from nine public universities and more than 30 community colleges from across the state attended.

Prior to coordinating the conference, Simon visited all 48 community colleges in Illinois to discuss their completion efforts and convened Affordability Summits at each of Illinois’ 12 public university campuses to learn how best to address rising costs. In February, she released a white paper outlining game-changing reforms that save students money and speed time to degree; the conference shows many of these reforms in practice.

Simon serves as the state's point person on education reform. In this capacity, Simon is working to increase the proportion of working-age adults with college degrees or certificates to 60 percent by 2025. She aims to make our state workforce prepared for the highly skilled jobs of the future, to improve employment opportunities and ensure continued economic growth.

Scaling Up: Effective Practices in Higher Education is taking place Oct. 30-31 in the Bone Student Center at Illinois State University in Bloomington.

A copy of the playbook can be found here.