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Advisory: November 9 Council Meeting

Council to highlight regional and institutional efforts to expand college and career pathways

November 3, 2021 

Olympia—The Tuesday, Nov. 9, Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) meeting will highlight initiatives and partnerships designed to increase the number of Washington students pursuing college or career training. 

Washington has all the elements to become a national leader in the number of residents continuing their education and training after high school. Yet the state's postsecondary enrollment rates, stagnant for the past decade, fall below the national average, with low-income students and students of color enrolling at disproportionately lower rates. Washington lags behind Oregon and California in direct postsecondary enrollment, and the state falls 10 points behind the national average. Total undergraduate enrollment has been in decline since a high point in 2010, and the decrease has accelerated during the pandemic. There are also warning signs that low-income students are becoming less likely to apply for financial aid. 

Regional partnerships across the state are working to reverse these trends. The Nov. 9 meeting will spotlight three community initiatives that are showing promise. The Seattle Promise program, Graduate Tacoma, and the Chehalis Student Achievement Initiative are finding success in helping students complete high school and enroll in college or career training. Through student-centered and comprehensive interventions, these regional efforts are also demonstrating progress in closing racial equity gaps. 

The Nov. 9 conversation will also explore how WSAC's proposed Career & College Promise Regional Challenge Grant could empower a diverse range of leaders to tackle these issues in their communities and in proximity to the students served. The Challenge Grant, a budget proposal recommended by the council, will fund the development and expansion partnerships to increase enrollment. This approach recognizes that there is no "one size fits all" state approach. WSAC's proposal would position the state to fund innovative practices, with a commitment to learning what works on the ground and expanding promising practices across communities.

The Nov. 9 meeting will also include a panel discussion on the 2021-22 guaranteed admission pilot program and test-optional admission policies. Through the guaranteed admission pilot program, eligible Washington high school students will be guaranteed admission to most Washington public four-year colleges. And as of this fall, students will no longer need to provide SAT or ACT scores for admission consideration. 

Panelists include representatives from Eastern Washington University, Wenatchee Valley College, and Pacific Lutheran University. 

The regional partnership programs, the guaranteed admission pilot, and test-optional admissions share a common purpose: to help Washingtonians access the enormous personal, community, and economic benefits of a postsecondary credential. And with the state's generous Washington College Grant program, there is now more money to help. Recent high school graduates and working-age adults from many low- and middle-income families can qualify to receive money for college or career training. An eligible student from a family of four making around $56,000 or less per year would receive a full award. Partial grants are available for families making up to the state's median family income, around $102,000 per year for a family of four.

Washington has created robust building blocks for change. This includes the nationally recognized Washington College Grant, community partnerships, ample college or career training opportunities, and simplified admissions processes. Strong colleges and universities, and a vigorous job market, can position the state as a national leader in reshaping the traditional college-going mindsets that emerged in the 20th century.

Resources:
  • The public will have opportunities to comment during the meeting. Those who plan to attend should register on Zoom prior. 
  • All meeting materials will be available online on the day of the meeting.
  • Read the Washington Student Achievement Council's equity statement here.
  • TVW visitors will be able to access the recording of the November 9 meeting here.

About the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC)

The Washington Student Achievement Council is committed to increasing educational opportunities and attainment in Washington.