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Mitchell Tech makes nation’s top 150 community colleges list

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Technical education in South Dakota, including Mitchell Technical Institute, received an honor Thursday with the release of the list of the nation’s top 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and $1 million in prize funds.

Both MTI and Lake Area Technical Institute were selected from a national pool of more than 1,000 public two-year colleges using publicly available data on student outcomes. The formula used to select the colleges was devised by expert analysts at the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems in consultation with an expert advisory committee convened by the Aspen Institute.

MTI President Greg Von Wald and LATI President Deb Shephard issued a joint statement:

“We in South Dakota have known for a long time that we provide excellent educational opportunities for our students. As a system of four technical schools, we are committed to striving for improvement in all areas, particularly college completion, employment for graduates and higher student achievement levels. National recognition like the Aspen College Excellence Program affirms that we are making progress in those areas.”

Each school will now submit an application containing detailed data on degree/certificate completion, labor market outcomes and student learning outcomes. They must demonstrate that they deliver exceptional student results for all students — including those from racial minority and/or low-income backgrounds — and also use data to inform decisions and continually improve over time.

Ten finalists will be named in the fall. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data, including employment and earnings data from states and transfer data from the National Student Clearinghouse. A distinguished Prize Jury will select a grand prize winner and a few finalists with distinction in early 2015. Lake Area Technical Institute is a previous finalist with distinction in both 2011 and 2013.

Source: MTI, LATI, Aspen Institute