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November 2011
What's Happening

WICHE Initiative Project – IHELP Executive Director Nancy Shulock has been selected to serve as outside evaluator for the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education’s Interstate Passport Initiative. The initiative is aimed at advancing policies and practices, over a five-year span, to support friction-free transfer of lower-division general education credits across the Western states. The initial project will include a pilot project in five WICHE states to establish block transfer agreements for the lower division general education core that use Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) Essential Learning Outcomes to articulate general education outcomes across states.

NGA Center Policy Academy – Nancy is serving as a technical advisor for the NGA Center for Best Practices’ Policy Academy: Strengthening Postsecondary Accountability Systems. She gave a presentation at the academy’s opening workshop on November 17-18 in Atlanta, Georgia. The goal of the academy is to make efficiency and effectiveness a more significant part of state-level postsecondary accountability systems. Nancy’s presentation centered on emerging trends in state accountability, including the focus on monitoring milestones and success (or leading) indicators in the efforts to improve student success.

ASHE 2011 Conference – IHELP faculty associate Su Jin Jez was invited to present two working papers at the Association for the Study of Higher Education annual conference on November 16-19. The papers are The Role of For-Profit Colleges in Increasing Postsecondary Completions in California and An Exploration of Identity Capital as a Predictor of College Enrollment Gender Differentials among African Americans. Su Jin will also serve as the Policy, Finance and Economics Program co-chair for ASHE’s 2012 annual conference.

IHELP Staff News – IHELP recently welcomed Eric Chisholm as its newly appointed research analyst. Eric is a graduate student in the public policy and administration masters program at Sacramento State University and will serve as analyst on an interim basis until IHELP conducts a formal recruitment. After four years as an invaluable member at IHELP, Research Analyst Jeremy Offenstein has taken a new position at a local consulting firm.


Features This Month

Sense of Direction: The Importance of Helping Community College Students Select and Enter a Program of Study

This new brief is excerpted from the longer IHELP report and examines the importance of declaring and entering an academic program of study for community college student success.  Researchers studied an entering cohort of more than 430,000 community college students and followed their progress over a six-year period through programs of study to completion of a certificate, associate degree or transfer to a university. The study used student course patterns to identify those who entered a program of study in 21 program areas across the liberal arts and sciences and career technical education. Researchers found that entering a program of study is an important milestone on the path to college completion that only half of entering community colleges students reach, and that students who enter a program of study in their first year are nearly twice as likely to complete a certificate, degree, or transfer as those who enter a program of study in the second year or later.

View the brief

In case you missed it - Good News, But a Long Way to Go

This brief discusses the findings of a new report from the American Association of Community Colleges titled The road ahead: A look at trends in the educational attainment of community college students. The brief offers an analysis of the AACC report’s claims that the investments made in a community college education are “paying off” due to the increase of certificates and degrees awarded by community colleges and the improvement of graduation rates. While there is cause for celebration with respect to increases in enrollment and college completions, a closer look at the data, especially regarding the value of short-term certificates and minority rates of improvement, shows some of the report’s positive assumptions may be premature.

View the brief

Spotlight On

A new study from the University of Pennsylvania Institute for Research on Higher Education and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education demonstrates the consequences of inadequate coordination and statewide policy capacity in higher education for higher education performance. The study, A Story of Decline: Performance and State Policy in Illinois Higher Education, written by Joni Finney and Laura Perna of the Institute and Patrick Callan of the National Center, is the first installment in a five-state study of the impact of state policies and practices on higher education performance. The study documents a serious decline in Illinois’ higher education performance in the last decade, including virtually no progress in addressing persistent inequities in higher education. Researchers found that one of the main factors responsible for the decline is a fundamental change in the state’s higher education governance. The state abolished the “system of systems” and replaced it with localized governance, which has not been able to produce shared state goals and priorities for higher education or allocate resources strategically to meet state needs. This study is relevant to California in the wake of the recent de-funding of CPEC and the general predominance of local autonomy over statewide approaches to postsecondary policymaking. While the report did address other issues which contributed to the decline, such as political corruption and fiscal shortfalls, the researchers found that the declining trend began well before these more recent challenges.

Sacramento State Institute For Higher Education Leadership & Policy

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