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  • New Report on Massachusetts Public Higher Education Shows Progress in Closing Achievement Gaps; Outlines Plan to Increase College Completion Rates

    3rd “Vision Project” Report shows gains among Latino students; forecasts shortage of college graduates needed for key sector growth

    BOSTON -- October 28, 2014 – At a time of rising demand for skilled college graduates in the Commonwealth, the Department of Higher Education’s third annual Vision Project report shows progress being made to raise graduation rates and close achievement gaps among public college and university students in Massachusetts, but also projects a shortage of skilled graduates needed to meet the needs of employers in key industry sectors that fuel economic growth, based on an expected drop in the state’s high school population in the coming years.

    “The Vision Project report provides state leaders with a road map that allows us to think and respond proactively to the issues in higher education we will face in the next decade,” said Secretary of Education Matthew Malone.”At the same time it allows us to celebrate achievements by our campuses and by the Patrick Administration. There are many points of progress contained in this report, and I am proud that our public colleges and universities share a vision for the future.”

     “Degrees of Urgency: Why Massachusetts Needs More College Graduates Now,” was released this morning before a group of 275 business and civic leaders gathered at the Boston Foundation.  The report outlines system and campus-level achievements aligned with the Vision Project goal of leading nationally among state systems of public higher education.

    >> Read the press release
    >> Photos from the release

  • Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Utah and Oregon make up the Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes

    Change Magazine Publishes Story on Vision Project Work in Student Learning Outcomes Assessment

    Highlights model for statewide assessment based on use of AAC&U rubrics, developed in partnership with 22 Massachusetts public campuses
    Key Outcome 3 is Student Learning

    June 6—Recently Pat Crosson, DHE's Senior Advisor for Academic Policy, and Bonnie Orcutt, DHE's Director of Student Learning Outcomes Assessment, were invited by the editor of Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning to prepare an article about the work in Massachusetts to develop a statewide program of student learning outcomes assessment that does not rely on standardized testing. The article, which also covers the initial work of the Multi-State Collaborative piloting a model, has now been published online and in hard copies of Change.

    With support from the Davis Education Foundation, and in collaboration with 22 public campuses, in 2012–2013 the DHE developed and pilot-tested a Massachusetts plan for statewide learning outcomes assessment based on use of the Association of American Colleges & Universities’ LEAP (Liberal Education & America's Promise) VALUE (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education) Rubrics for written communication, quantitative literacy, and critical thinking. Also with Davis support, Massachusetts developed a partnership with eight other states, the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO), and AAC&U: the Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment. Currently underway in all nine states, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is a pilot test of a learning outcomes assessment model that provides useful information for campuses and a basis for comparisons and public reporting on student learning that is essential for the Vision Project. For Massachusetts, this is our second pilot study of the plan for statewide assessment. Many faculty members, academic and assessment leaders, and campus presidents in Massachusetts and other states have been part of this effort, and it has received national attention as an alternative to standardized testing in higher education.

    >> Read the article (Free for Change subscribers; at a fee for non-subscribers)

  • Nurse helping an elderly man

    Facing Shortages, MA Board of Higher Ed Approves Workforce Plans for Technology, Health Care Sectors

    Workforce development plans enhance educational opportunities for students and meet employer expectations
    Key Outcome 4 is Workforce Alignment

    June 17—Citing the need to address shortages of skilled employees in two distinctly different, high-demand industries—technology and home health care—the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE) has approved new workforce development plans to enhance educational opportunities for students and meet employer expectations, the Department of Higher Education announced today.

    Technology Talent Initiative Workforce Plan

    The Technology Talent Initiative Workforce Plan (.PDF) is the first comprehensive statewide assessment of the technology sector’s workforce requirements, offering a detailed analysis of the scope and scale of the technology talent gap and the role of the public higher education system in addressing shortages.

    “This report demonstrates that there is a critical gap between the number of degrees granted in Computer Science and Information Technology at our public (campuses), and the current and projected growth in jobs requiring those credentials,” according to the report accepted by the Board. “Data suggest that, in the aggregate, degree-granting in these fields should double to fill the gap in qualified talent.”

    Allied Health Direct Care Workforce Plan

    At its last meeting of the year at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston (MassArt), the BHE also approved the Massachusetts Allied Health Direct Care Workforce Plan (.PDF) to create “stackable credentials” for workers in community-based settings. The largely female direct care workforce includes certified nurse assistants, medical assistants, personal care and home health aides, who typically work in low-wage, non-benefitted positions.

    “These are people who are on the new front lines of our health care system,” ” said David Cedrone, Associate Commissioner for Economic and Workforce Development. “We need to grow this workforce and provide them with educational pathways that allow them to acquire credentials that ‘stack’ to for-credit college courses, certificates, and degrees.”

    Both plans build upon the Department of Higher Education’s innovative approach to workforce development, based on the creation of sector-specific workforce plans in collaboration with industry leaders, local employers, and campuses. The first of these plans focusing on the nursing profession led to the creation of the Nursing Education Transfer Compact (NETC), which supports attaining the goal of 66% of Massachusetts nurses holding Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees by 2020.

    Photo courtesty MyFuture.com

  • Westfield State nursing students participated in an international public health mission to Santa Maria de Jesus, Guatemala in March 2014.

    MA Board of Higher Education Adopts Nation’s 1st Statewide Civic Learning Policy for Public Campuses

    Community Colleges, State Universities, UMass Campuses to Deepen Focus on Preparing Students for Engaged Citizenship
    Key Outcome 5 is Civic Learning

    May 8—The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE) has adopted a first-in-the-nation policy on civic learning for public college and university students and will work with the Commonwealth’s community colleges, state universities and University of Massachusetts campuses to incorporate civic learning as an "expected outcome" for undergraduate students beginning in the 2014-15 academic year, the Department of Higher Education announced today.

    "With this vote the BHE urges Massachusetts' public campuses to reaffirm a shared commitment to the civic learning which is essential if students are to meet their future responsibilities as citizens," said Richard M. Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education. "This work is at the core of our mission in higher education. It is a commitment that I believe should be met with urgency.”

    “This is such an important development both for Massachusetts and for the entire nation,” said Carol Schneider, President of the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U). “In the last few decades, even as more and more Americans have enrolled in higher education, policy leaders have fallen silent on the way college can and should help ensure a strong future for democracy. We have long needed determined leadership to make civic learning in college just as important as preparation for careers. Massachusetts is showing us the way forward by reconnecting college, careers and civic vitality.”

    >> Download the Policy on Civic Learning (.PDF)

    Photo: Westfield State nursing students participated in an international public health mission to Santa Maria de Jesus, Guatemala in March 2014. The goal was to supplement the classroom experience with public health field work addressing the issues of affordability and healthcare. Photo Courtesy David Fried/Westfield State University.

  • MA Board of Higher Education Votes to Improve Math Remediation, Create New Math “Pathways” of Study

    Trustees Encourage Campuses to Align Math Instruction With Students’ Career Goals
    Key Outcome 1 is Participation

    December 10—With 38% of public college and university students enrolled in non-credit remedial coursework during their first semester in college, the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education has voted to encourage campus efforts to improve remedial math education, create new academic pathways for math instruction, and increase the number of students who are prepared to finish college and enter the workforce, the Department of Higher Education announced today.

    The Board approved a series of pilot initiatives, part of the Board’s Vision Project strategic agenda for public higher education, aimed at helping students advance more quickly to credit-bearing courses while obtaining the skills needed for college-level work. A task force convened by Higher Education Commissioner Richard M. Freeland reported in October that of the 11,000 community college students who took remedial math in fall 2010, 9,000 have yet to pass a credit-bearing math course. In Massachusetts, 60% of community college students, 22% of state university students, and 10% of UMass students take at least one remedial course, with the need for math remediation significantly outpacing that in writing and reading. Research indicates that students who are enrolled in remedial courses are much less likely to graduate from college.

    >> Read the full press release