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June/July 2014
What's Happening

PACE Conference – IHELP Associate Director Andrea Venezia was a panel speaker at the Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) conference, Implementing the Common Core in California: Reports from the Field on July 27 in Sacramento. Andrea discussed the current IHELP research on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards in California that focuses on grades 9 through 14 (the second year of college).

University of California Speaker Series – IHELP Director Nancy Shulock discussed IHELP’s newest report at the University of California Speaker Series presented by Institutional Research and Academic Planning (IRAP). Nancy discussed the challenges facing California higher education and a new vision, including region-based planning and collaboration and effective state-level policy leadership, to help increase student success and meet the needs of students, postsecondary systems and the state. Click here to view the slides of her presentation.

Learner Analytics Summit – IHELP Faculty Associate Su Jin Jez attended the Learner Analytics Convening hosted by the University of Maryland University College and Achieving the Dream. Su Jin learned about the use of predictive analytics to support the work of cross-institutional collaborations, including the kinds of efforts currently underway, the barriers the institutions have faced when using analytic tools, and the supports they have used to support their work.



Features This Month

New Report - State Policy Leadership in Higher Education - Six Case Studies

This study examined the role of state policy leadership in higher education reform. It looked at a significant policy reform that was enacted in each of six states and explored the contributions of governors, legislators, and others in accomplishing the reforms. A principal finding of the study was that the reforms were enabled to a very significant degree by state-sanctioned entities such as departments or commissions of higher education with missions to serve the public good through coordination or oversight of postsecondary education. These entities have the expertise and the capacity to support elected officials by staying informed of national trends, collecting and analyzing data, engaging broadly with stakeholders, identifying policy levers, drafting legislation, and monitoring implementation. The case studies provide a stark contrast to the absence of such an entity in California.  The report is the third part of a set of reports aimed to increase college and career readiness and success in California (see Spotlight below for a review of the three-part project).

View the report


New Report - Maximizing Resources for Student Success by Reducing Time- and Credits-to-Degree

This report addresses the problem of excessive time-to-degree for many students at public regional universities and examines strategies and practices leaders can use to support timely degree completion, especially for low-income students. The study identifies strategies that institutions have used to help reduce costs for students by fostering timely completion. Strategies include those, such as intrusive advising, that help students make better-informed choices, and those, such as better course scheduling and well-structured degree pathways, that improve student access to the courses they need. The report provides many examples of institutions that have used these strategies, along with available evidence of their effectiveness. It also addresses potential challenges to implementation and offers recommendations to university leaders interested in using these practices to improve timely graduation. Co-authored by California State University, Northridge President Emerita Jolene Koester, this report is part of HCM Strategists’ Maximizing Resources for Student Success project that is aimed at making college more affordable.

View the report

New Briefs – Next Generation Learning Challenges

This publication series, written by IHELP Research Specialist Jodi Lewis and funded and published by EDUCAUSE, looks at the strategies and tools used by Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) grant recipients to support their new "breakthrough model" schools. NGLC is an initiative to improve postsecondary readiness and completion by identifying and scaling technology-enabled approaches to secondary and postsecondary education, especially for low-income students.

Next Gen Tools: Blended Learning Classroom Design
This brief features the school facility at Merit Prep Newark, Touchstone Education’s first blended learning school. The facility features large classrooms that enable groups of 100-plus students to progress at their own individualized pace through online resources and assessments, with a team of two to three teachers to facilitate deeper concept inquiry, project-based learning, and collaboration among students. The design also teams master and apprentice teachers in one classroom, thus enabling educator learning opportunities.  

Next Gen Tools: Competency Report
This brief describes the development of a competency report for Northern Arizona University’s (NAU) Personalized Learning program. NAU’s competency reports describe the skills and abilities that students have achieved in their progression towards a degree. These reports demonstrate accomplishments that are potentially more relevant to future employers than the listings of courses, grades, and credits on a traditional transcript.  

Spotlight On

Building a case for stronger state policy leadership for California higher education

IHELP has completed a three-part project that continues our emphasis on the importance of providing effective state-level policy leadership for California’s extraordinary systems of colleges and universities. Across American higher education, states have the crucial responsibility to develop, fund, maintain, and support their public higher education systems. In California, despite having excellent institutions, the state’s public policies in support of its colleges and universities are not yielding the collective results that we need. Higher education is not affordable for enough students, too few students are enrolling in and completing college degree and certificate programs, too many graduates are not prepared for the workplace of the 21st Century, and there remain intolerable equity gaps in college going and completion across the state’s populations and regions.

These problems and challenges plague all states, for sure, but we have been impressed with the progress underway in many states where state leaders have seized the opportunity to make higher education a top priority because of its impact on state social and economic health. Higher education appears to be getting more attention from our state’s leaders – indeed a hopeful sign. Yet we have not yet seen the kinds of state-wide planning, goal-setting, and coordinated reform efforts that we believe are needed to meet the immense challenges the state faces. From what we’ve seen in other states, we believe that California will be able to implement large-scale improvements only with the addition of a state-level entity to provide coordination and leadership over the higher education enterprise. The three reports in this series are aimed to keep building the case for California’s policy leaders to engage more comprehensively in their work to strengthen higher education for the benefit of all Californians.

Average Won’t Do ­ analyzes California’s postsecondary performance in the areas of preparation, affordability, participation, completion, benefits and finance. The data make it clear that California has work to do to improve public postsecondary outcomes, as the state rates only about average among all states, with these aggregate ratings masking serious differences across regions of the state and across racial/ethnic populations.

New Vision for California Higher Education - describes some of the structural barriers that are preventing more dramatic progress in meeting California's needs, despite the best efforts of the public segments to increase student success. It lays out a new approach, based on systematic region-based planning, that seems better suited to today’s circumstances than the approaches devised in 1960 that continue to shape public policies.

State Policy Leadership in Higher Education – presents six short case studies of states that have enacted major policy reforms in their efforts to improve student success and increase educational attainment. The case studies describe the state-level policy leadership that was exerted to make possible these reform efforts. Of particular note was the importance of a state-level commission or department that provided the capacity to support policy leaders in their work to engage stakeholders, collect and analyze data, set and monitor goals, draft legislation, and assist with implementation.  

Sacramento State Institute For Higher Education Leadership & Policy

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