CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After more than a year of combing through education statistics, a team of students, professors, business leaders and college presidents across the state have a game plan to increase West Virginia's chronically low college completion rate.
In a 20-page report released Thursday called "Educating West Virginia is Everyone's Business," a task force organized by the Higher Education Policy Commission and West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education laid out a five-step roadmap to dramatically increasing West Virginia's college completion rate.
Among the recommendations are to make college graduation a state and campus priority, reduce the time it takes students to earn their degrees, improve remediation education courses, increase adult completion rates, and tie higher-education funding to college completion rates.
"For West Virginia to compete economically and globally, it is critically important that we increase college completion and that every student in West Virginia be placed in a pathway to meet the future needs of the state's business and industry," Joanne Tomblin, first lady and co-chairwoman of the college completion task force, said in a news release.
West Virginia has among the lowest college attendance and completion rates in the country.
Out of every 100 students enrolled in the ninth grade in West Virginia, only 17 will earn a two- or four-year college degree within 10 years. In the best-performing states in the U.S., 30 students receive a college degree within that timeframe.
Of the students who attend college in the state, 60 percent do not complete their degrees.
"Increasing our college completion rates is one of West Virginia's most important public policy goals," West Virginia University President Jim Clements, co-chairman of the task force, said in the release. "The work of this task force is a significant step toward achieving that goal, and I hope our report generates a sense of urgency and inspires our collective action."