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The Vision Project: A Public Agenda for Higher Education in Massachusetts: Aspiration, Accountability, Unity

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Latest Report

Cover of Time to Lead

Vision Project
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Overview of Strategies by Outcome Area

There is a wide array of work underway to advance Massachusetts' performance in the Vision Project's key outcomes. Below is a brief summary; for more information about the specific initiatives and programs that comprise the comprehensive strategy to achieve national leadership, read Time to Lead (.PDF), the 2012 Vision Project report:

Time to Lead: The Need for Excellence in Public Higher Education

In College Participation

With Massachusetts already leading the nation in college participation of recent high school graduates, Vision Project work in this area has focused on three core goals:

Strong collaboration with elementary and secondary education, a hallmark of recent efforts to promote college participation, will become even more critical as we work to ensure that public college students are representative of the entire citizenry of the Commonwealth.

In College Completion

Massachusetts' efforts to achieve national leadership in college complation are built on the following core goals:

With this focused approach to improving student success, Massachusetts aims to increase completion rates for all students at both the baccalaureate and community college levels.

In Student Learning

How do we know what college graduates have actually learned and are able to do? And equally important, how can we assess student learning in ways that help us improve teaching? Massachusetts seeks to answer these two questions through the following core goals:

The work is challenging but promises to make possible a continuous cycle of improvement that will help campuses not only identify problem areas in student learning, but understand how to solve them. At the national level, Massachusetts is leading a conversation through the Vision Project on how to build an interstate system to compare student learning outcomes.

>> More info on Vision Project work in Student Learning

In Workforce Alignment

While Massachusetts' economy has proved resilient during the recent economic downturn, the state's public colleges and universities are barely keeping pace with the demand for a highly educated workforce. To meet these future workforce needs, the Vision Project is working on two levels.

First, we seek to increase the overall percentage of Massachusetts residents with college degrees because of the strong correlation between high numbers of college graduates and strong economic performance. This goal expresses the importance of a broad liberal education and encompasses all aspects of Vision Project work.

Second, we seek to meet workforce requirements in areas of greatest economic growth. In this second context the Vision Project is pursuing three core goals:

In Preparing Citizens

In March 2012, the Board of Higher Education voted to add a seventh key Vision Project outcome to the six that were approved in 2010: becoming a national leader in the preparation of students to be active, engaged, informed citizens. This step was taken in order to align the programmatic goals of the Vision Project more fully with the initiative's underlying vision: to produce the "best-educated citizenry and workforce" in the nation. The Board's action makes Massachusetts the first state to include civic learning and engagement as part of a system-wide program of accountability measures.

Given the recent date of the Board's vote, the key outcome of preparing citizens is not as developed as other Vision Project goals and strategies. The Department of Higher Education will form a study group of campus representatives and civic education experts during the 2012-2013 academic year to review current work on education for citizenship and make recommendations regarding how the state's public colleges and universities can most effectively integrate this emphasis into their work.

In Closing Achievement Gaps

Work to close achievement gaps for each outcome area is woven into the work in each of the above areas.

In Research

For more information on research at UMass, including highlights from individual campuses and the principles and priorities that guide the research, see the UMass FY2011 Annual Research and Development Expenditures Report (.PDF).