Like many of you, I recently spent some time watching the Winter Olympics, especially some of the big medal-grabbing moments from athletes like figure skater Nathan Chen and bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor. And I was reminded that those big wins capped off years of hard work – countless stuck landings and perfect turns over many, many hours of practice, as well as a series of smaller wins at competitions all over the world. These incremental steps are a crucial part of each athlete’s story.
Despite the lack of fanfare or a global television audience, we’re also seeing small but important victories when it comes to our continuing push for better and more transparent information about the returns to education after high school. In Washington, the move toward a stronger, more efficient, and secure student data system continues, as do efforts to update and improve consumer tools and regulations governing employment-focused programs.
States and institutions are also making strides, bringing value into state strategic plans for higher education and launching efforts to include equitable economic mobility as a lens through which we can view our colleges and universities.
Keep reading for more about all of these developments and stay tuned for more news from us and our partners about the next steps in the movement to make equitable value a top priority for our postsecondary system. With continued work from all of us and from policymakers, we can turn these small wins into bigger ones for today’s students and their families through better information that leads to student-centered innovations and better decisions. We can follow the lead of our Olympic athletes in showing that persistence does in fact pay off.
From the Foundation
Spotlight: Federal Action to Make Value More Transparent
Over the past several weeks, there has been significant action on several fronts to improve the quality and accessibility of information about student outcomes:
- The U.S. House passed the bi-partisan College Transparency Act as part of a larger legislative package. The bill calls for the creation of a secure and privacy-protected student-level data system covering enrollment, progression, completion, and post-collegiate outcomes.
- The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) announced updates and improvements to the federal College Scorecard, including the inclusion of institution-level earnings data for graduates and updated data on student loan debt and repayment levels.
- USDOE has also proposed to reinstate regulations to measure gainful employment of graduates of for-profit colleges and non-degree programs at non-profit colleges as part of its negotiated rulemaking process.
From the Field
In its new strategic plan for higher education in the state, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has set a goal for 95% of graduates having zero undergraduate student loan debt or manageable debt in relation to earnings, a first of its kind benchmark in the nation. The plan, titled Building a Talent Strong Texas, also reinforces the state's 60x30TX goal, which is to have 60% of Texans ages 25-64 with a degree, certificate, or other high-value postsecondary credential by 2030.
The Carnegie Classifications, the nation’s leading framework for organizing and describing American higher education institutions, will now be housed at the American Council on Education (ACE). As part of the move, ACE is launching the development of a Social and Economic Mobility Classification to reflect colleges’ and universities’ commitments to serving a diverse student population and helping students to achieve economic and social mobility. The initiative will mark the 50th anniversary of the classifications, first published in 1973.