Difficult Dialogues_ Rewarding Solutions

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					More for Less
(and High Quality Too):
Heartland Perspectives on America‟s
Human Capital Challenge

Chris Rasmussen
Midwestern Higher Education Compact

Student Financial Aid Research Network
27th Annual Conference
June 12, 2010 – San Diego, California

   “Difficult Dialogues” project – part of
    Lumina Foundation’s “Making
    Opportunity Affordable” initiative
   Objective: facilitate cross-sector
    dialogue and problem solving in an
    “intellectually safe” environment
   Launched at MHEC’s November 2008
    policy summit in Minneapolis

   Developed in consultation with
    Public Agenda
   Utilized “Choicework” framework
   Two phase process:
       Phase I: Policy Summit, Nov 2008
       Phase II: Dialogues in all 12 MHEC
        states, April to December, 2009
   Involved ~350 participants
Participants – Phase I

   12 dialogue groups
       State legislators
       Other state government officials
       Faculty and institutional administrators
       System personnel
       Association representatives
       Community leaders
Participants – Phase II
(Single stakeholder groups)      Faculty
   Administrators – public      Graduate students –
    comprehensive                 public flagship
   Adult/continuing             K-12 teachers
    education directors
                                 Legislators (twice)
   Business leaders
                                 Undergraduate
   Community college             students – private
    leaders                       college
   Community                    Young professionals
    organization leaders
Dialogue Process

   Presented three general approaches
       Focus on institutions
       Focus on students
       Focus on systems
   Part 1: Define and analyze problem
   Part 2: Identify potential solutions
   Policy summit dialogues: 4 hours
   State dialogues: 2-3 hours
Dialogue Process

   Thought experiment:
       Suppose you had to increase the
        proportion of adults in the United
        States with a college degree by 20
        percentage points by 2025 with no
        increase in funding and no decrease in
        quality. How would you do it?
Phase I: Problem Definition

   Shared sense of urgency
   No easy answers
   Move past blaming others to
    develop systematic approaches
   Less consensus on benchmarks and
   Unease with business models (and
Phase I: Solutions

   Improve college readiness to reduce
    the need for remediation and
    promote student success
       Increased rigor in HS curriculum
       Better alignment of HS curriculum and
        college admissions standards
       Earlier identification of remedial needs
       Better counseling and advising

   Improve retention of current college
       More intensive advising in the first year
       Mentoring from faculty and staff
       More “relevant” curricula
       Progress and completion incentives
        (including monetary awards)

   Create integrated P-20 systems
       Expansion of accelerated learning
       Better matching of postsecondary
        programs to local and regional needs
       Improved coordination among different
        K-12 and higher ed entities
       Differentiate institutions and curb
        “mission creep”

   Use incentives and business models
       Reward faculty for mentoring and
        excellent teaching
       Use data to drive improvement
       Determine appropriations partly by
        success in meeting completion goals
   Encourage innovative approaches to
    teaching, learning, advising, and
Policy Summit Follow Up
    Report of policy summit written by John
    Immerwahr of Public Agenda:
       Difficult Dialogues, Rewarding Solutions:
       Strategies to Expand Postsecondary
       Opportunities While Controlling Costs
   Report sent to summit participants and
    300+ additional stakeholders
   Link to the online version sent to all
    college/university presidents in the Midwest
    and in e-newsletter
Phase II: Emergent Themes
   The student centered approach was
    the most popular by far
       Improved guidance counseling around
        college requirements and preparation,
        institutional choices, and financing
       Need for greater academic rigor,
        particularly in the senior year of HS
       Need for better outreach and
        information to students and families
       Admit only those students that have a
        better than average chance of being
Emergent Themes
   “I think we really do need to start coming
    in to narrow students down for the path
    that they want to make their career. And
    instead of having these well-rounded
    students come out halfway educated in
    every area, let‟s try to focus on making
    them very educated in the area they want
    to pursue, and have the best of the best of
    each individual area.”
Emergent Themes
   “To say college is your main path to a
    career, I mean that is just school to work
    on steroids, and I never liked school to
    work. These folks we‟re talking about going
    to these institutions, we are far better off if
    we are training up and bringing forth
    people who are creative, productive,
    contributory, good citizens. Have a
    foundational knowledge of the history of
    this country, and western civilization, and
    what a difference that (has) made on the
    face of this planet.”
Emergent Themes
   “I‟m all for well-rounded education, I think
    that‟s great. The problem I have with it is,
    if we are charging these students an
    exorbitant amount of money, so they‟re
    leaving college with a 60, 70, 80 thousand
    dollar debt, and they‟re well rounded, and
    they can‟t find a job, we‟ve failed…the
    bottom line to me is, what is college for? Is
    it to become a more rounded individual, to
    grow up? Is it to find a career, to become
    educated in that career, and go from
    there? I think we have some
    disagreements on that.”
Emergent Themes
   “All three of (my kids) were advised at different
    times by advisors, „Oh, you don‟t want to take that
    many hours this semester.‟ They would come home
    and say, „Hey mom, I‟m not gonna take this many
    hours,‟ and I‟d say, „Yes you are, sorry. Otherwise
    you‟re not gonna have enough hours in four years.‟
    And I‟d get the big sigh and they‟d go back with 15
    hours instead of 12, or 17 hours, whatever it was
    gonna take them to stay on track. (We need) to
    make sure those advisors, when they say to kids,
    „Hey, 12 hours is okay,‟ that they also say, „Now
    you understand though, you want to get good
    grades, we want you to get good grades, but if you
    stay on the 12-hour plan, you‟re not gonna get out
    of here in four years. So just know that.”
Emergent Themes
   “If you look at this from a market perspective,
    the person has lots of institutional choices
    where they can go and do a short- or longer-
    term course that‟s very focused in a particular
    professional track. A lot of proprietary
    institutions and for-profits are into net market.
    And then we have institutions that really want
    to provide a more broad based education. So
    there‟s choice. One of the questions is, well
    what investment does the state have, and
    what sort of financial investment should we be
    making? Can we afford to provide everybody
    with a well-rounded education, or is that a
    luxury that somebody should pay extra for?”
Emergent Themes
   Focus on retention and graduation
    of current students first
       Accelerate remediation
       More intensive advising in the first year
       Improved course selection to match
        major/professional aspirations
       Expanded relationships with business
        and other entities (program
        advisement, internships, early hiring
        options, military, volunteer service)
       Better information on why students
Emergent Themes
   “There‟s far too many students coming to
    the four-year (institutions) that aren‟t
    prepared (and) that take that remediation.
    It costs the universities more, it costs (the
    students) more. If we could show that the
    community college is a way to for certain
    students to succeed on an even playing
    field that‟s right for them…what‟s right for
    everyone isn‟t right for them.
Emergent Themes
   “Well I think that maybe what we‟ve done is instead
    of having an expectation that they will be at a
    certain GPA coming in, there was a period of time
    when we were trying to let college be an
    opportunity for everybody. Well college isn't for
    everybody and I think that we open the doors to
    everyone and it isn't for everyone. And by maybe
    making it more stringent of who can come in, but
    also having an option for those that maybe don‟t,
    who don‟t have (the necessary) GPA to go through
    some type of assessment or some type of – to see
    if they would be able to handle it. „Cause I don't
    think our time should be spent on remediating
    students. I think we should be helping them find
    other directions that they should be going in.”
Emergent Themes
   “I am a product of that remedial math
    course at (state university) and it did help
    me because our math teacher in senior
    high school wanted to talk about nothing
    but sports. So you did have people fall
    through the cracks that need that remedial
    (work) somewhere and not all high schools
    are there.”
Emergent Themes
   “We don‟t need to do all this marketing
    and push to get all of these students who
    aren‟t capable or don‟t have the inclination
    to go to school. In my family when I was
    raised it wasn‟t a question of are you going
    on to higher education. It was where are
    you going for higher education and what
    will be your vocation. What will be
    something that you do? We raised our four
    children the very same way. It was a
    mindset at home and if you don‟t wanna
    go to a four-year institution then pick a
    profession and educate yourself.”
Emergent Themes

   Improve institutional efficiency and
       Better utilize technology for common
       Focus on strengths: content providers
        and content deliverers
       Focus on competencies and not just
        class completions (modules, PLAs)
       Do not lose focus on quality
       Provide a “no-frills” option
Emergent Themes
   “I‟m not necessarily a big fan of the
    accelerated learning, AP credit stuff,
    because I really feel it takes away from the
    university being able to put like their
    stamp on that student; the university has
    a mission and by completing that series of
    courses within the university you become
    the product of the university instead of,
    you know, a mishmash of institutions.”
Emergent Themes
   “The thing I have the biggest trouble with is
    completing assessments rather than taking
    courses. Well I don‟t want doctors or my
    farmers just to do a pass/fail system. The
    other thing is that the farmers are falling way
    behind because they‟ve gotten so big and with
    technology and everything, now they‟re going
    broke and there‟s no way to fill that gap in our
    rural areas. We‟re gonna need, we‟re gonna
    have a huge issue of qualified accountants and
    young farmers coming in in the next few years.
    And we also have a huge issue with the texting
    and the social skills.”
Emergent Themes
   Better coordination within and
    between sectors is critical
       Feedback loops between colleges and
        high schools
       Improved mobility of students among
       Outreach and accommodation of “stop
        outs” and varying enrollment patterns
       More inter-institutional cooperation and
        less competition
       Maximize use of current capacity before
        expanding in other parts of system
Emergent Themes
   “I was in one area and decided to change
    my major as a junior. „Oh, but you can‟t do
    that because you didn‟t take…‟ Doing this
    with this age kids and doing this with this
    age kids and…so I would‟ve had to start
    over again to change majors. There‟s a
    kinda, we don‟t ever think outside the box.
    Instead of having a major in this and this,
    and this and this are required for your
    major, maybe it‟s a block system where
    you don‟t have to have such specific
    classes to graduate in a particular area.”
Emergent Themes
   “I don't want to see community colleges
    try to give four-year degrees, but I would
    love to see our senior institutions offering
    more completion programs at two-year
    colleges, so that for those of our students
    who are place-bound, I think that can be
    an additional motivational idea for them:
    Okay, if I finish up with you, I know I can
    then continue on and get that bachelor's
    degree right here close to home.”
Emergent Themes
   “I went to a medium sized regional university
    and it‟s trying, I think over the years it‟s
    attempted to look like a large land grant
    university, and now the community college is
    starting to turn into, appears to look like
    baccalaureate institutions. So why don‟t they
    stick to their niche area and focus on what
    they‟re good at as opposed to having resources
    all over the state supplying the same thing
    where they could be good at what they‟re good
    at, and not necessarily trying to perform the
    same activity for everyone across the state.”
   Contradictions and conundrums
       Focused, directive curriculum vs.
        opportunity to choose from a variety of
       Broad based studies vs. career specific
       Aligning students with “better fit”
        institutions vs. fear or tracking and the
        desire to give everyone a chance (and
        the right to fail)
       Mixed perspectives on remedial
   Contradictions and conundrums
       High cost of multiple campuses and
        duplicative programs vs. access and
       System-level policymaking and
        standardization vs. institutional
        autonomy and entrepreneurship
       Facilitate mobility and aggregation of
        credits vs. “our degree” at “our
       Need for improved student services vs.
        the cost of said investments
“The American Narrative”
   We want services but don’t necessarily want to
    pay for them (think health care, transportation)
   Autonomy and choice
   Fairness and equity
   Self-determination and individual responsibility
   Participant struggle with the prospect that
    fundamental changes in our higher education
    system required to increase production while
    maintaining affordability and quality might
    challenge some of these strongly held beliefs
Policy Challenge
   To act boldly toward producing real change while
    remaining sensitive to fundamental values and
    beliefs about the purpose and role of higher
    education that are connected intrinsically to the
    American narrative
   To have faith that increased investment will
    generate long-term gains
   To measure the impact of individual investments
    and to develop genuine systems of accountability
   To manage higher education like a business without
    suggesting that higher education is a business!
Chris Rasmussen
Vice President for Research and Policy Analysis
Midwestern Higher Education Compact
1300 South 2nd Street, Suite 130
Minneapolis, MN 55454