DECATUR – In her campaign to improve college completion rates, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon visited Richland Community College today to learn how the school is improving math instruction and preparing students for jobs of the future.
Richland Community College opened a mathematics enrichment center less than a year ago which provides walk-in access to 31 computers where students receive technology enhanced, individualized instruction. Historically, less than half of Richland students enrolled in developmental math courses have passed. For students who complete the math lab program, the pass rate is up to 85 percent.
“Everywhere we go, we hear a similar story from professors and administrators: Too many students come to college unprepared for college-level math,” Lt. Governor Simon said during a roundtable with students, faculty, administrators and local employers. “We need to find ways to reach and retain these students so they can complete college on time with a meaningful certificate or degree.”
Simon announced earlier this year that Illinois wants to increase the proportion of working-age adults with college degrees or certificates to 60 percent from 41 percent by 2025. As the Governor’s point person on education reform, she is touring the state’s 48 community colleges to see completion efforts at each campus, while also hearing about barriers to each college’s completion goals.
“Nearly two-thirds of all jobs in the future will require a college education, whether that’s a certificate, associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree,” Simon said. “But at today’s pace, less than half of our workforce will ever achieve that level of education. Illinois is serious about making reforms that will prepare our students for the next generation of good-paying jobs.”
Two ongoing partnerships with Archer Daniels Midland Company have added networking outlets and professional advancement resources to the Richland campus, Richland President Gayle Saunders said. One partnership addresses professional development of current workers for both ADM and Tate and Lyle, while the second will train the future workforce for emerging carbon capture and storage industries. Richland is set to offer the world’s first associate’s degree in sequestration technology.
“Nothing is more important to Richland than ensuring the success of each one of our students,” Dr. Saunders said. “If our region is to grow, thrive, and prosper, it is imperative that students have the opportunity to succeed at higher education or skills training leading directly to work. We must remember that education is workforce investment and workforce investment is economic development. The completer agenda is not about programs, agencies, or turf. It is about people and our future.”
The Richland visit was the 10th stop on Simon’s Complete College tour. She is scheduled to visit schools in Danville, Mattoon and Bloomington on Thursday and Friday.