Judging by the report card issued by the Institute for a Competitive Workforce, Washington is lagging behind the rest of the country in more than a few areas.
The state's public colleges received an "A" for access to four-year institutions in a report issued earlier this year by the Institute for a Competitive Workforce (ICW), a nonprofit affiliate of the U.S.Chamber of Commerce.
But that was one of the few bright spots. The report, titled "Leaders & Laggards: A State-by State Report Card on Public Postsecondary Education," gave Washington a host of "Cs" and "Ds" in other areas, including policy environment, online learning, meeting labor market demand and efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Earl Hale, the former executive director of the Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges, will lead the discussion, along with representatives from higher eduation and manufacturing.
This was the third installment of the Leaders & Laggards report, which aims to shine a light on the problems with American colleges and universities. Although U.S. schools have long been viewed as the best in the world, signficant cracks are evident beneath the impressive exterior, according to the report's introduction.
"Students, taxpayers, business leaders, and policymakers have real reason for concern," it states, noting that labor market projections show that two-thirds of all jobs will require some postsecondary education by 2018.
Given today's levels of higher education productivity, economists estimte the U.S. will fall 3 million degrees short.
Washington's four-year schools did slightly better than two-year schools in the report, scoring an "A" for student access and success, and "Cs" in the other categories: Efficiency & Cost-Effectiveness, Meeting Labor Market Demand, and Transparency & Accountability.
The state's two-year schools earned a "B" for student access and demand, with two "Cs" and a "D" rounding out the categories.
The state scored the lowest grades -- a trio of "Ds" -- for its Policy Environment, Openness to Providers and Online Learning.