SB 88: Concerning authorization of two-year degrees with academic designation
Concerning authorization of two-year degrees
with academic designation
Senate Bill 10-088
Testimony to the Senate Education Committee
Frank Waterous, Ph.D., Senior Policy Analyst
The Bell Policy Center
February 17, 2010
My name is Frank Waterous, and I am a senior policy analyst with The Bell Policy Center. The Bell is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research and policy organization dedicated to expanding opportunity for all Coloradans.
The Bell Policy Center supports Senate Bill 10-088, "Two-Year College Degree Designation." By authorizing community colleges and junior colleges to offer 2-year degree programs with academic designation, the bill will contribute to increased student success in three important ways, and will help in developing the skilled workforce necessary for Colorado's economic strength and competitiveness.
First, the ability to pursue a two-year degree with a specific designation will contribute to increased student retention and completion. Evidence suggests that students who can see a clear pathway to their academic goals are more likely to persist in their studies and complete their degrees. Especially for those students who have a particular academic interest or career aspiration, working toward a "generic" associate's degree may not provide sufficient motivation. For those students, two-year degree programs with academic designations would encourage a stronger commitment to sticking with their studies.
Second, permitting students to choose an academic major while pursuing an associate's degree could ease transfer from a two-year to a four-year institution. Along with successfully completing the coursework necessary for transfer, students who earn an associate's degree in a particular academic field will have clearly demonstrated their commitment to, and readiness for, continued study in their discipline.
Third, for students interested in pursuing a particular two-year academic path for entry directly into, or advancement within, the workforce, an associate's degree with academic designation would serve as added support for their efforts to gain employment or move up in their chosen profession. In this regard, the bill would help the state to fill its workforce needs for individuals with specific, focused education and skills development at the associate's degree level. Almost half of all employment today is classified as "middle-skill" jobs that require a post-secondary education, but less than a bachelor's degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that about 45 percent of all job openings through 2014 will be middle-skill positions, as well.(1)
Finally, by helping to strengthen the quality of Colorado's current and future workforce, Senate Bill 10-088 would contribute to one of the key factors in our state's economic competitiveness. As a recent report from the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation noted, "educational attainment is the single-most important element in job and income growth," and is one of the chief underpinnings of a strong economy.(2)
In summary, The Bell Policy Center believes that Senate Bill 10-088 will benefit both students and our state. We urge you to support the bill, and thank you for the opportunity to share this information with you today.
If you have any questions, or if I can provide further information, please call me at 303-297-0456 or email me at email@example.com.
(1) Harry J. Holzer and Robert I. Lerman, The Future of Middle-Skill Jobs, CCF Brief #41, Center on Children and Families, Brookings Institution, February 2009,
(2) Toward a More Competitive Colorado: Executive Summary on Competitiveness, Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, Nov 2009,