We’re entering a new season of the year and on the U.S. Program team at Gates. My longtime colleague, Sara Allan, director of Early Learning and Pathways, will be departing the foundation after 12 years to become President of the Valhalla Foundation. It’s been a joy partnering with Sara throughout our time together directing the Pathways and Postsecondary work and I’m thrilled for her next chapter at the helm of Valhalla where I know her dedication to improving student outcomes will continue to shine through.
Her shoes will be big to fill, and in the interim, Allan Golston, president of the U.S. Program, has asked me to steward this work. I’m honored to assume the role of interim director of Pathways, while maintaining my current position. Both strategies continue to be high-priority, high-impact areas at the foundation, and our Pathways work is a significant contributor to achieving the promise of equitable postsecondary value for students.
One example: Two years ago, the foundation asked: What if students in every high school had the opportunity to earn college credits aligned to an in-demand career path without the financial burden? This question spurred our investment in Accelerate ED—a multi-state effort to build and scale valuable accelerated pathways for students. Twelve state-based design teams comprised of leaders from K-12, postsecondary institutions, workforce development orgs, and employers worked for ten months on blueprints for excellent and equitable career-centered pathways. The result? Foundational insights about what this work takes, plus an expanded Early College Promise in Massachusetts and a flexible, apprenticeship-supported IT path in Indiana. To learn more, check out: The Accelerate ASU initiative and a good read from the coordinators of this work, Ed Strategy Group.
Another Pathways + Postsecondary partnership I’m excited about is our work to improve credit mobility. We know that students’ postsecondary journeys aren’t linear. Students transfer, students stop out – some 40 million students have “some college, no degree.” Whether students are moving from community college to a four-year university, enrolling after high school with dual enrollment credits, or reenrolling after time off, they should be empowered with upfront information about the fastest path to a degree. But all too often, students lack adequate information on how their credits transfer, they wind up with stranded or unused credits, and many ultimately stop out because the process is overly complex and costly. The vision for our credit mobility work is to build an ecosystem where learners no longer encounter these barriers, by accelerating the development of innovative technology and data systems. We’re in the early stages of this investment area and are motivated by our partners’ innovative solutions, such as ASU’s Trusted Learner Network and CUNY’s Transfer Explorer.
More to come on how we’re thinking about and supporting investments that improve students’ postsecondary pathways while delivering on the strategy goals for both the Pathways and Postsecondary Success teams. For now, join me in extending a virtual “!” to Sara.
How can dual enrollment be transformational for student success, particularly for students from underserved communities? It’s a question we ask regularly in our Pathways work, and one that motivated the latest round of research from our partners at the Community College Research Center (CCRC). In two new publications, the CCRC team, acknowledge that not all dual-enrollment programs align with career pathways, and recommend a model called “dual enrollment equity pathways” (DEEP), which invites students to explore and complete programs aligned with their specific education and professional goals.
Supporting students in their transition from high school to college, career, and beyond, is critical, especially as some credential beyond a high school diploma is required for most job opportunities. The more the field understands about how dual enrollment practice and policy can support students in both their access to and success in college and career opportunities, the likelier students will be to pursue and complete meaningful postsecondary programs. Interested in contributing to his body of research? Consider submitting a proposal to the Dual Enrollment Research Fund.
The nation’s largest institution of higher education recently unveiled their vision for delivering more postsecondary pathways for more students. The California Community College System has 116 campuses and serves 1.9 million students – just about half are adult learners. They are a main engine of social mobility for the state and have ambitious goals for supporting the 6.8 million Californians between the ages of 25 and 54 with a high school diploma but no postsecondary credential in postsecondary attainment. Check out their Vision 2030.