Where We Stand
State leaders have the opportunity—and the obligation —to demand success.
In America, our states are most responsible for the education of their citizens. While the local headlines and legislative dockets are often filled with stories and efforts to improve K-12, not enough attention has been paid to education after high school. To increase college and credential completion, that must change. States have the power and responsibility to demand more from higher education. More than that, they have an obligation to do so. After all, between direct financial support to schools and financial aid to students, state taxpayers are the majority investors in public colleges and universities. We should give them more of what they want: college graduates.
The justifications for state leadership are clear:
While state-appointed or elected citizen boards directly govern public institutions, ultimately states are responsible for all public colleges and universities. State goals and state leadership created community college systems and expanded open access four-year institutions over the past 50 years; state leadership and support will be necessary to enhance and sustain their effectiveness in improving college completion in the 21st century.
By a wide measure, state taxpayers provide the greatest funding for institutions, especially community colleges and open access four-year institutions. No other stakeholder is better positioned than state governments to ensure that public investments are wisely utilized to maximize opportunities for the future economic success of their states.
Systemic, Scalable Change
States are the best positioned to ensure reform across systems and campuses by setting goals, establishing uniform measures, and monitoring progress. They can also serve as the most efficient clearinghouses of best practices, allowing for rapid scaling of successful reforms.
With so much at stake economically, states must hold themselves, students, and institutions accountable for success. States have leverage over both governance and the funding mechanisms needed to achieve higher levels of completion.
Institutions have strong incentives to shape reporting to mask failure and avoid confronting problems. States are much more likely than individual institutions to share and publish data to drive reform.
Higher education attainment is inextricably linked to future economic success. State leadership will ensure stronger linkages between each state’s economic needs and higher education delivery.
Mobility of Students
Today’s students move across campuses and systems to attain credentials. Coherent state policy and integrated state strategies are essential for assuring ease of transfer and efficient completion