Oklahoma's four-year colleges and universities got high marks for efficiency and cost-effectiveness in a national report released Tuesday.
But two-year colleges in the state didn't fare as well, lagging behind similar institutions in nearby states.
The report, “Leaders and Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card on Public Postsecondary Education,” comes from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for a Competitive Workforce.
The report gives states' four-year and two-year schools letter grades in criteria including efficiency and cost-effectiveness, transparency and accountability and student access and success.
Oklahoma's four-year schools received a B for efficiency and cost-effectiveness. The report noted the average cost of completion at Oklahoma's four-year schools is $57,201, placing Oklahoma in the top 10 nationally.
Oklahoma's grade put it ahead of every state it borders except Texas and Colorado, whose four-year schools were graded A for efficiency.
Oklahoma's two-year colleges received a D for efficiency. The report cited a high average cost of completion. Along with state and local funding levels, Oklahoma ranks in the bottom third of states, according to the report.
That grade placed Oklahoma's two-year schools behind those of every state it borders except New Mexico, which also received a D for efficiency.
Andrew Kelly, one of the report's researchers, said the study was based on an analysis of data from the National Center for Education Statistics and a review of states' higher education policies.
As states struggle to fund higher education, it becomes more important for higher education systems and campuses to make the most of funds they're given, Kelly said.
The report's authors recommend states place greater focus on degree completion. States should move from funding policies that focus on student enrollment, because those policies place too much emphasis on attracting students and not enough on making sure students succeed, the report says.
Glen Johnson, Oklahoma's higher education chancellor, said the state has begun implementing a number of the measures recommended in the report under the state's Complete College America initiative.
The state initiative is part of a larger national campaign that calls for states to produce greater numbers of college graduates to keep up with industry demands.
Among the measures Johnson cited were an increased focus on college readiness, greater collaboration with CareerTech centers and expanding options for adults seeking to complete their college degrees.
Johnson also noted that Oklahoma fared well in terms of efficiency and affordability in a separate report produced by the chamber.
In its 2012 “Enterprising States” report, the chamber placed Oklahoma at seventh in the nation in terms of college affordability and eighth in terms of higher education efficiency.