the transition to the workforce; and, embracing new strategies that provide stronger linkages between post-secondary education and career, and which reduce the unsustainable financial burden too often shouldered by students.Federal policies must embrace innovation, promote competency, and reassert a focus on outcomes that reflect the needs of the full spectrum of today’s students, not just first-time, full-time students, as well as the demands of today’s economy. Such a shift in our mindset regarding higher education is critical if we are to reduce the number of students who are unable to complete their post-secondary program, who are buried under unsustainable debt, or who graduate but are unprepared for the rigors of the global economy. To meet these challenges requires new strategies to make post-secondary education more responsive to the needs of all students.
The America Forward Education Task Force’s Higher Education Working Group has collectively developed its Higher Education Policy Platform for the 115th Congress that outlines those features we believe are critical to making our post-secondary system more equitable, efficient, and effective. These priorities are outlined below.
Information on costs, outcomes, supports, and accommodations at different institutions should be reported and presented in a manner that makes cross-institution comparisons possibly and easy to interpret.
Pay for Success and innovation fund approaches, as well as reforms in numerous federal aid, workforce development, and other education programs, could accelerate adoption of new approaches that support under-resourced students during the college application process, their post-secondary careers, and their transition to the workforce.
New Federal policies should intentionally harness the power of effective partnerships to increase post-secondary access and improve outcomes for under-resourced students.
Federal higher education programs have long been focused on access, rather than on whether students are achieving the skills and knowledge they need to obtain and retain employment. A concerted movement towards prioritizing both access and outcomes is just beginning and should be encouraged and accelerated.
Post-secondary providers and employers should work together to create innovative credentialing and certification programs that reward the development of certain, in-demand skills that apply directly to areas of need in the economy.
Any reauthorization of the Higher Education Act should ensure that teacher preparation programs better prepare teachers to provide instruction to under-resourced students and school leader preparation programs better prepare school leaders to be strong instructional leaders, talent managers, and culture builders for all students.
Federal policy should encourage Institutions of Higher Education – including in partnership with nonprofits, community organizations, and businesses – to focus on providing hands-on learning experiences that get students out of the classroom and enable them to apply what they are learning to real-world challenges, creating strong linkages between classroom knowledge and career-focused applications.
Federal student aid programs should include incentives for Institutions of Higher Education to be more focused on individual attainment of degree and certification programs.
Federal policies should promote the role of service year programs as an effective and mutually beneficial bridge to the full-time workforce or, if the service year takes place before college, as a bridge to college.