PAREDES BRIEFS COMMITTEE ON CLOSING THE GAPS MEASURES
(AUSTIN) — Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) Commissioner Dr. Raymund Paredes addressed the Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education today about the current state of higher education in Texas, with special attention to the state's Closing the Gaps plan. This plan was adopted by THECB in 2000, with the goal of increasing college participation, completion and excellence, especially among the minority population. Paredes testified about how the state has progressed, and about how much farther it has to go.
Paredes said that both enrollment and completion percentages are up, but not enough for the state to meet its goals by 2015. One way to improve this, he said, was to pay special attention to community colleges and other two-year institutions. Paredes said that 60 to 70 percent of enrollment growth is in community colleges, and growth there accounts for most of the increase in attendance among minority populations. Texas can increase the number of students moving on to four-year colleges and universities by fostering cooperation between two- and four-year institutions.
One goal met by the state with respect to Closing the Gaps, said Paredes, is the adoption of a recommended high school curriculum geared to college preparedness. Beyond that, though, he said the state still has much more it needs to do. For example, schools need to shift the major goal of education from minimal proficiency on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test to college readiness and success. The state can accomplish this in part, he said, by implementing an accountability program to track the number of students going on to college from individual high schools, and how successful those students are.
The Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education is chaired by Laredo Senator Judith Zaffirini. She is joined on the subcommittee by Senators Kip Averitt, Dan Patrick, Royce West and Tommy Williams.
The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, February 13th, at 11:00 a.m.