CAP (College Access & Persistence) and Gown: Building Community Connections to Increase Postsecondary Degree Attainment
Lina Bankert, Bellwether Education Partners
- Education remains one of the best predictors for a variety of adult outcomes, ranging from employment and earnings to voting and health care.
- Even as more and more Americans pursue postsecondary degrees, the gains in educational attainment have not been broadly shared.
- Low-income, black, and Hispanic students face disproportionately large barriers and impediments to accessing and completing postsecondary credentials.
- However, there are bright spots: Some systems are effectively supporting students “to and through” their postsecondary pathways of choice with a range of supports and interventions.
- Because higher education is primarily a regional issue, particularly for underserved students, there is a unique opportunity for place-based collaboration efforts to amplify successes and address barriers, bringing together stakeholders from both the K-12 and postsecondary sides.
- Bellwether Education Partners has a track record of working on and writing about a breadth of issues around postsecondary access and success, and we’re actively seeking partners to expand the work into more locales.
The value of education has only increased over time, and education remains one of the best predictors of later-life success, however, degree completion rates for low-income students — particularly for students from marginalized communities — lag significantly behind those of their wealthier peers.
What holds low-income students back from postsecondary success? A few barriers include:
- Unequal access to challenging academic coursework during high school
- Difficulty filing a federal financial aid form, which substantially lowers the costs of attending college
- Challenges when transferring from a community college to a four-year institution
- Rising costs of tuition and fees, which have outpaced inflation and wages
- Lack of supportive role models among family members and teachers
Emerging Bright Spots — and Bellwether’s Approach
Despite these troubling realities, there are reasons for hope and optimism. A number of systems and programs across the country are bucking the trends to demonstrate that low-income students can get to and through college, if given the right supports and program design.
For example, college access and success organizations, such as OneGoal and Bottom Line, are working within communities to get low-income students to and through college, and their strong outcomes have allowed them to expand their reach. Similarly, more school districts and charter networks are beginning to recognize that their job extends beyond high school graduation and have begun investing significant resources in supporting their students through a variety of postsecondary pathways.
But while there are many initiatives in play around college access and success, the field lacks a comprehensive picture and playbook for success.
We believe that deep analysis on the needs of a particular region — coupled with practical solution generation on the back end — will lay the foundation for effective collaboration in an ecosystem, with an acceleration in student outcomes to follow.
This document outlines how Bellwether will take the massive challenges outlined above and distill practical, research- and policy-based insights for on-the-ground stakeholders.
- Mind the Gap: The Case for Re-Imagining the Way States Judge High School Quality (Bellwether Education Partners) Link
- 2016 FAFSA Completion Rates By State Link
- Aldeman: We Think We Know How to Teach Reading, but We Don’t. What Else Don’t We Know, and What Does This Mean for Teacher Training? (The 74) Link
- Boston Public Schools’ ‘chronically absent’ numbers alarm education activists (Boston Herald) Link
- Better Ways to Measure Student Learning (Governing Magazine) Link
- Analysis: New Analysis Shows How a $13 Billion Funding Gap Between Charter Schools & Traditional Public Schools Hurts Underserved Students (The 74) Link
PATHWAY 2 TOMORROW
Pathway 2 Tomorrow: Local Visions for America’s Future (P2T) matches responsive and agile education policy solutions with the needs of states and local communities.
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