CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Wyoming is joining an alliance of states working to increase the number of students successfully completing college.
Gov. Matt Mead announced Tuesday that he has accepted an invitation for Wyoming to join the Complete College America Alliance of States and has assembled a team representing Wyoming community colleges, the University of Wyoming, the executive branch and employers to see the effort through.
Mead said Wyoming invests a lot of money on educating its students, but he says the state can do better at preparing students for college.
The team will set goals for college completion at the state level and at the campus level and report on progress each year.
"I believe Wyoming's team can serve as a tool for educators at all levels as we make improvements in helping students before and after they enter college," Mead said in a statement. "Improving college completion rates at the University of Wyoming and in community colleges means a better workforce and a brighter future for these men and women."
According to the latest statistics, 24 percent of students who enter UW as freshman graduate in four years and 53.2 percent graduate in six years. Among Wyoming's public community colleges, 28 percent of first-time, full-time students graduate in three years.
James Rose, executive director of the Wyoming Community College Commission, said the Complete College America Alliance of States requires no membership fees and pays for each state team's expenses.
"But you do agree to monitor and report progress in terms of achieving completion goals," Rose said.
The alliance doesn't force solutions on states but expects states to come up with their own remedies to improve graduation rates and share them with other alliance members, he said.
"All of it is part of this process of improving student success and that's kind of what it's all about," Rose said.
Mike Massie, special assistant to the UW president, said the university has been working hard through its own initiatives and with the community colleges to help its students graduate and prepare for good paying jobs.
"The university already has in place several programs that have helped with retention and graduation rates and if this is another arrow that we can add to our quiver in that regard then we certainly want to explore it with community colleges," Massie said.