Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

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The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education coordinates change and improvement in Kentucky’s postsecondary education system as directed by the Kentucky Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997. The Council is a statewide coordinating agency with sixteen members: fourteen citizens, one faculty member, and one student appointed by the Governor; the Commissioner of Education is an ex officio member.

The Council on Postsecondary Education is charged with leading reform efforts envisioned by state policy leaders in HB1. Among its many responsibilities to ensure a well-coordinated and efficient postsecondary and adult education system in Kentucky, the Council:

  • Develops and implements a strategic agenda for the postsecondary and adult education system that includes measures of educational attainment, effectiveness, and efficiency.
  • Produces and submits a biennial budget request for adequate public funding of postsecondary and adult education.
  • Monitors and approves tuition rates and admission criteria at public postsecondary institutions.
  • Defines and approves all academic programs at public institutions.
  • Ensures the coordination and connectivity of technology among public institutions.
  • Collects and distributes comprehensive data about postsecondary education performance.

The duties of the Council on Postsecondary Education are outlined in the Kentucky Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997, Section 74 through 84 (36K DOC).


The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education was originally established in 1934 as the Council on Public Higher Education, and was renamed the Council on Higher Education in 1977. Twenty years later, the Kentucky General Assembly passed higher education reforms in the Commonwealth with the passage of the Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997, commonly referred to as House Bill 1 (HB1). House Bill 1 created the Council on Postsecondary Education to provide direction and oversight to all Kentucky postsecondary institutions. This groundbreaking legislation set Kentucky on the path to improve the quality of life of its citizens to at least the national average by the year 2020. State leaders recognized that to increase quality of life, Kentucky must increase the educational attainment of its citizens, and therefore mandated that by the year 2020, the Commonwealth would have:

1. A seamless, integrated system of postsecondary education strategically planned and adequately funded to enhance economic development and quality of life. 2. A major comprehensive research institution ranked nationally in the top 20 public universities at the University of Kentucky. 3. A premier, nationally recognized metropolitan research university at the University of Louisville. 4. Regional universities, with at least one nationally recognized program of distinction or one nationally recognized applied research program, working cooperatively with other postsecondary institutions to assure statewide access to baccalaureate and master's degreesof a quality at or above the national average. 5. A comprehensive community and technical college system with a mission that assures, in conjunction with other postsecondary institutions, access throughout the Commonwealth to a two-year course of general studies designed for transfer to a baccalaureate program, the training necessary to develop a workforce with the skills to meet the needs of new and existing industries, and remedial and continuing education to improve the employability of citizens. 6. An efficient, responsive, and coordinated system of providers that delivers educational services to all adult citizens in quantities and of a quality that is comparable to the national average or above and significantly elevates the level of education of the adults of the Commonwealth.

These goals were included in the Kentucky Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997. Goal six was amended with the passage of the Kentucky Adult Education Act in 2000.

Kentucky's Public Agenda for Postsecondary and Adult Education[edit]

The Council develops a strategic plan for Kentucky's postsecondary and adult education system every four years. After completing a rigorous strategic planning process in 2004 that included nine regional forums across the state, the Council issued Five Questions - One Mission Better Lives for Kentucky's People: A Public Agenda for Postsecondary and Adult Education, 2005 - 2010 in September 2005, which guides the work of Kentucky adult and postsecondary education through 2010. The plan emphasizes accountability, degree completion and affordability. At the heart of the public agenda are five questions that serve as the framework for postsecondary education reform in Kentucky. These questions also serve as the framework for key indicators that monitor progress and encourage and reward behaviors that move the state closer to its goals:

1. Are more Kentuckians ready for postsecondary education?
2. Is postsecondary education affordable to its citizens?
3. Do more Kentuckians have certificates and degrees?
4. Are college graduates prepared for life and work in Kentucky?
5. Are Kentucky's people, communities and economy benefiting?

The public agenda also includes campus action plans for each public postsecondary institution and the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities. The Council produces and submits annual accountability reports to the Governor and the Kentucky General Assembly on the postsecondary and adult education systems's progress toward meeting the goals of HB1.

Kentucky's Double the Numbers Plan[edit]

In 2006, the Council completed a 2020 projections study to determine what it would take to meet the educational attainment goals of HB1. The study projected Kentucky will need approximately 800,000 adults with at least a bachelor's degree by 2020 to reach the national average; in 2000, Kentucky had only 400,000.

To meet this goal, the CPE developed Double the Numbers: Kentucky's Plan to Increase College Graduates in October 2007, which explains that increasing bachelor’s degrees is the quickest, most direct way for Kentucky to increase its economic prosperity. The plan includes five statewide strategies as well as a regional approach that sets targets for each strategy in eight regions across the state. The five strategies target Kentuckians at every point of the education pipeline— high school students, GED graduates, adult learners, transfer students as well as traditional college students.

The state's current adult education outreach efforts are focused on a multimedia, multi-year access and success campaign known as KnowHow2GOKy. Returning adults are served through a branch of the awareness campaign known as Project Graduate.

Kentucky Adult Education (KYAE)[edit]

The Kentucky Adult Education Act, or Senate Bill 1, passed by the 2000 General Assembly created a partnership between the Council on Postsecondary Education and Kentucky Adult Education and set the stage for dramatic improvements in the educational status of adult Kentuckians who lack a high school diploma, function at low levels of literacy or want to learn English.

The mission of Kentucky Adult Education (KYAE) is to raise the educational levels of more than one million Kentucky adults with low literacy skills and to assist the nearly 786,000 adults who do not have a high school credential to earn a GED. KYAE’s goal is to help these adults gain the academic skills and credential they need to function productively in the workplace, support themselves and their families and make positive contributions to society and the economy. A local adult education program in every county provides academic instruction in reading, writing, math, science and social studies to help adults improve their literacy skills, earn a GED, prepare for college and employment and learn English as a second language.

The state's current adult education outreach efforts are focused on an access and success campaign known as KnowHow2GOKy.

Kentucky Virtual Campus (KYVC)[edit]

The Kentucky Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997 also created the Kentucky Virtual Campus (KYVC). When it launched in fall of 1999 as the Commonwealth Virtual University (CVU), it provided a single course catalog for all online courses offered at Kentucky colleges, universities and state agencies and offered student services such as class registration, course management and 24x7 technical support. The CVU was renamed the Kentucky Virtual University in 2000 and enrollments continued to grow. Use of KYVU services grew from less than 300 students in its first semester to 55,964 in the fall of 2005. For the 2005-06 academic year, KYVU received and addressed 50,150 calls and emails through its Call Center and technical help desk services. Even more significant, 28 percent of all students receiving a degree or credential in Kentucky in 2004 - 05 had taken at least one distance learning course supported by KYVU.

In 2006, KYVU revisited and updated its vision, mission and goals to reflect the changing needs, expectations, and opportunities of its constituencies. After completing an extensive strategic planning effort, the Kentucky Virtual University became the Kentucky Virtual Campus with a new mission: "KYVC serves as a statewide advocate for access to learning through technology, a convener of partners that use resources effectively, and a catalyst for innovation and excellence in eLearning. KYVC continues to provide a single point of access to online learning opportunities offered by Kentucky colleges, universities and state agencies through its online course catalog and 24x7 helpdesk servies, and seeks to promote the convenience and accessibility of online learning through strategic marketing efforts.

Kentucky Virtual Library (KYVL)[edit]

To further support lifelong learning in the Commonwealth, HB1 also created the Kentucky Virtual Library(KYVL). KYVL levels the playing field for all Kentuckians by providing free access to multiple learning and research tools to anyone with a library card. KYVL provides users with the ability to search a number of databases of books and scholarly works, while also providing help on research methods and techniques. KYVL strives to enhance the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of resource sharing among Kentucky libraries by utilizing current and emerging technologies, providing a core collection of digital information resources at lower cost per unit through cooperative statewide licensing agreements. KYVL's mission is to prepare students, faculty and staff of Kentucky's educational institutions and the citizens of the Commonwealth to be full participants in today's information-based global economy and in the lifelong learning process by providing services to develop information literacy.

As of 2010, KYVL serves 1,478 institutions including eight public universities, all 16 districts of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), 20 independent colleges and universities, 1,271 public K-12 schools, 118 public libraries, 18 special libraries, 13 special academic institutions and 13 independent K-12 schools. Use of KYVL's online resources has grown steadily and exponentially, from a monthly average of 388,675 database searches in 1999 - 2000 to more than 2 million per month in 2009-10. KYVL's ground courier service delivers materials to participating sites throughout the Commonwealth and is offered to all public libraries and public postsecondary institutions at no cost. The service has saved these public institutions a great deal of cost, delivering 206,367 items and 121,972 bags in 2008-09, an average of 17,197 deliveries per month. KYVL also offers many opportunities for training and tutorials for partner organizations.

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