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Coming to Our Senses: Education and the American Future


For nearly a decade, the College Board has been redefining itself into a "gateway," a force encouraging students to aspire to college enrollment and success. In this transformation, the College Board has emphasized a three-part agenda of access, equity and excellence, and supported a number of activities that combine to create a comprehensive approach to all three goals (see below).

This report from the Commission on Access, Admissions and Success in Higher Education is, in many ways, the capstone of these efforts. I am grateful to William "Brit" Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, for his leadership in this undertaking. I appreciate the hard work of the commission members and its staff.

"Coming to Our Senses" defines a clear and ambitious goal of ensuring that at least 55 percent of Americans hold a postsecondary credential by 2025. We can attain that goal by increasing current completion rates by 1 percent annually. This document describes in clear and unvarnished terms the ways in which our K-12 and academic systems have stood by as large numbers of students dropped out of school, while many others who enrolled in college failed to finish. And it lays out an action agenda to move forward, one that calls on everyone -- schools, colleges and universities; parents and students; and state and national leaders -- to do their part. A compulsion to excel elsewhere in the world has transformed education globally; it is time we developed that same compulsion.