Certificate Production and the Race toward Higher Degree Attainment

Since the current economic recession began, the national dialogue on degree production and accountability has accelerated. The conversation is fueled by a national imperative for robust postsecondary degree production in order to remain globally competitive. In order to track the progress made by states and their postsecondary institutions, the State Higher Education Executive Officers released the Degree Production and Cost Trends report, in August 2010, as the first part in a series examining degree and completion production and related education expenses.

Complete College America and FutureWorks conducted an analysis of certificate production, the value of the certificate program, and the economic benefit it provides to the region and nation. The conclusion, based on labor market demand and both personal and economic returns, is that certificates count and the policy and trends around certificates deserve closer examination.

The following report is a follow-up that focuses on certificate production across the states and serves to answer some of the important questions raised in the first iteration:
• What trends can we observe in certificate production?
• Are there different state factors driving results?
• What are the policy implications of a state’s certificate production?

To answer these questions, this analysis presents an overview of certificate production in the United States, the types of certificates driving production, and a comparison to overall
completion production in the states. The overall goal of this report is to create a context for state policy discussion and stimulate challenging questions about completion data and certificate production.

Publication Date: 
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
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