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Senate Hearing on Higher Ed Innovations & Student Success


November 1, 2013


Senate Hearing on Higher Ed Innovations & Student Success

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee met today for a hearing on the Higher Education Act reauthorization titled “Innovations to Improve Student Success.”

Testifying before the committee were representatives for various facets of the postsecondary system:

  • Richard Kazis, Senior Vice President, Jobs for the Future
  • Dr. William Kirwan, Chancellor & CEO, University System of Maryland
  • Dr. Scott Ralls, President, North Carolina Community College System
  • Timothy Hall, President, Austin Peay State University
  • Dr. Paul LeBlanc, President, Southern New Hampshire University

While the types of innovations discussed for students’ success varied widely during the course of testimony, one trend was evident—all students should be able to earn a recognized credential in an in-demand field through a high-quality program in as little time as possible.

One of the most agreed-upon innovations among the witnesses was the need to structure postsecondary programs along career pathways with multiple “on and off ramps” for students. According to Dr. Ralls, these postsecondary career pathways would allow students to earn credentials along their program path before culminating in the major degree or other credential. If a student left a program before earning the terminal credential, they will still have earned a postsecondary credential relevant to their career path – an “off ramp” from the program. These same “ramps” could also be used to allow those currently in the workforce with a relevant credential to enter a postsecondary program without needing to retake coursework or relearn skills they have already, thus speeding time to graduation and reducing cost.

The full hearing video and testimony of the witnesses has been posted on the committee’s website for viewing. Additionally, ACTE has circulated recommendations for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, and will continue to pursue better alignment between our nation’s secondary, postsecondary and workforce systems.

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