Highlighting the critical importance of improving student success in America's community colleges, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program named Pratt Community College as one the nation's 150 top community colleges, challenging it to compete for the $1 million fund for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

The Aspen Institute identified the 150 community colleges — about 15 percent of all institutions — using a quantitative formula that assesses performance and improvement in four areas: graduation rates, degrees awarded, student retention rates, and equity in student outcomes. These colleges will now compete for the prestigious honor following a year-long research process into how well their students learn, complete degrees, and get jobs with competitive wages after graduating. A full list of the 150 community colleges is available at www.AspenCCPrize.org. Prize winners will be announced in the spring of 2015.

"We're very excited to be nominated," said Dr. Michael Calvert, President of PCC. "The areas we are nominated on are hallmarks for what PCC has done and truly show that we are meeting the mission of PCC."

Some seven million students – youth and adult learners – enroll in America's nearly 1,200 public and private community colleges every year.

PCC, along with the other colleges nominated, will be winnowed to eight to ten finalists in the fall based on how PCC helps students complete their programs on time, how well students do in the job market after graduating, and the effective use of data to ensure continued student success.

PCC is currently working on an application containing detailed data on these criteria. It will demonstrate that it delivers exceptional student results, uses data to drive decisions, and continually improves over time.

The Aspen Institute will conduct site visits to each of the finalists in the fall.

For more information about Pratt Community College call (620) 450-2217 or visit www.prattcc.edu.