Continuing its commitment to helping America once again lead the world in college graduates, the U.S. Department of Education has invited the higher education community to share best practices that have been proven to help students successfully complete postsecondary education and convened some of the leading researchers to develop a toolkit for institutions to reference.
"Our task now is to brainstorm more creative ideas and scale up those practices that are most successful in making sure that all students--regardless of income, race or background--are crossing the finish line," U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said at the Department's college completion symposium yesterday.
"We know that answers for improving quality and completion will come from professors, deans, and leaders in the field who have first-hand knowledge about what works to keep students in school and help them succeed," said U.S. Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter, who also spoke at the event. "Our goal is to highlight strategies that have had the greatest impact on students' success without saddling them with unnecessary costs or debt."
As part of these efforts, the Department has published a notice in the Federal Register calling for information about promising practices and activities that have improved rates of postsecondary progress, transfer and graduation. A special focus is on strategies that emphasize the quality of what students learn and timely or accelerated attainment of degrees or certificates, including industry-recognized credentials that lead to employment outcomes. The Department will begin posting submitted material on its website so that schools and practitioners working to boost college completion can benefit from the information in a timely way.
Entitled "Evidence-Action-Innovation," the college completion symposium held yesterday convened 50 of the nation's leading researchers, policy experts and practitioners from postsecondary institutions around the country. The discussions focused on best practices that support students' academic transitions through accelerated programs, learning communities and bridge programs; as well as advising, coaching and mentoring.
The symposium and call for information are part of the Obama Administration's overall initiative to increase the number of Americans who earn postsecondary degrees and certificates. Early in his Administration, President Obama issued a goal that America would once again be first in the world in college graduates by 2020, which is critical to rebuilding the nation's economy. In his State of the Union address last week, President Obama reiterated that keeping college affordable and within reach of all Americans is vital to achieving the 2020 goal. He outlined a number of action steps to ensure that students are not burdened by student loan debt in their pursuit of higher education, and the blueprint for keeping college affordable can be found at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/01/27/fact-sheet-president-obama-s-blueprint-keeping-college-affordable-and-wi.
More information about how to respond to the request for information, entitled "Promising and Practical Strategies to Increase Postsecondary Success," can be found in the Jan. 30 Federal Register at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-01-30/pdf/2012-1963.pdf. More details about the Department's college completion and affordability efforts can be found at: http://www.ed.gov/college-completion.