AUSTIN, Texas, Aug. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The Austin Chamber of Commerce today announced that representatives of nine Central Texas business organizations and nine school districts have signed a comprehensive agreement to boost local direct-to-college enrollment rates to the national average, significantly increasing the number of students in postsecondary education.
The achievement plan, named DTC70, is the first direct-to-college compact in the nation comprised of multiple chambers of commerce, school districts and businesses. DTC70 is focused on meeting the common goal of having 70 percent of high school students directly enroll in college by the Class of 2016. Research has shown that students are far more likely to complete a degree if they enroll in postsecondary education directly after they graduate from high school.
While four-year graduation and college readiness rates for local area public schools both are at all-time highs, the direct-to-college enrollment rate for the region has remained at 62 percent since 2007. In addition, about 50 percent of today's more than 45,000 job openings in Central Texas require at least a Bachelor Degree and an additional 12-20 percent require at least an Associate Degree. Nearly 85 percent of the unemployed in the area lack either credential.
"This is an exciting day for business and education in Central Texas," said Gene Austin, Chairman of the Austin Chamber of Commerce. "We share a common goal and a common set of strategies that we believe will move the needle on the stagnant regional direct-to-college enrollment rate. Through DTC70, about 1200 more graduating seniors in the Class of 2016 will be enrolled in a technical school, community college or university. This provides more seniors with a better opportunity for a brighter economic future and addresses Austin's job opening and unemployment needs that require higher levels of education."
Through the Austin Chamber initiative, nine local independent school districts have agreed to deploy, refine and scale effective strategies to address barriers to college enrollment. This includes helping students with more counseling transition strategies that address the complexities of new, recently mandated state requirements for high school graduates.
The independent school districts have agreed to extend counselor contracts 6 weeks into the summer to help recent graduates with the following: direct enrollment, improved data sharing to allow counselors to target students, increased digital messaging around financial aid and milestones for juniors and seniors. They will also provide assistance regarding alignment of K-12 curriculum to improve completion of college-going milestones.
"It's very important for our students to be college- and career-ready upon graduation, and also to take the next step and enroll directly into college. This sets students up for success because education is a game-changer," said Austin Independent School District (AISD) Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz.
Business and Chamber organization commitments include conducting surveys of juniors and seniors on post-high school plans, providing and supporting college and career expositions, paying for tutoring non-college ready seniors, enabling reminders on critical college deadlines via SMS messaging, and labor market and data analysis information to empower students and educators along the way. DTC70 also features a new collaboration with Austin Community College (ACC) to improve student high school to college transition support and improved use of data to target student support.
"This partnership between ACC and the Chamber is a win for everyone – most importantly, for our students," says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC President and CEO. "More than half of all area high school graduates choose ACC for their college education. It's important that we work with our partners in education to develop pathways that will create a college-going culture and provide those students the tools for success."
The DTC70 agreement was signed by the following community leaders and organizations in a ceremony today at the Austin Chamber:
- Superintendents for ISDs: Austin, Del Valle, Elgin, Hays, Hutto, Leander, Manor, Pflugerville and Round Rock.
- Higher Education: Austin Community College and the University of Texas Ray Marshall Center.
- Austin Business Organizations: Austin Chamber, Austin Asian Chamber, Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber and Round Rock Chamber, Austin Board of Realtors and Williamson County Board of Realtors.
About the Austin Chamber
The mission of the Austin Chamber of Commerce is to provide leadership that facilitates the creation of a prosperous regional economy and effective advocacy for its more than 3,000 members. For more information about the Austin Chamber of Commerce visit AustinChamber.com.
Jenny Steward, Public Relations Manager, Austin Chamber of Commerce.
SOURCE Austin Chamber of Commerce