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Session Descriptions

Session 1. Setting State Goals and Strategies to Improve Graduation and Student Success Rates

The proportion of adults with a postsecondary credential is not keeping pace with national needs and the U.S. is also falling behind other industrialized countries in this respect. In Massachusetts, recent research estimates that 68% of jobs in the state will require postsecondary education by 2018 although currently only 53.4% of working-age adults hold degrees. Moreover, despite good work undertaken and real progress made over the last several years by our public higher education system, graduation rates at our public campuses are below the levels needed for the national leadership called for by the Vision Project. In this interactive session, participants will review and discuss the charge of the Vision Project’s Working Group on Graduation and Student Success Rates which includes recommending graduation and student success goals, discussing current campus goals and plans, and prioritizing statewide policies and practices.

Presenter: Francesca Purcell, Associate Commissioner for Academic and P-16 Policy, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education


Session 2. Student Learning Outcomes Assessment in an Era of Accountability

The session will be a working session for participants to discuss with members of the Working Group on Student Learning Outcomes and Assessment issues related to learning outcomes assessment, campus assessment programs, accountability, and the Vision Project’s ambitious goal that students attending Massachusetts public campuses lead the nation in academic achievements on campus-level and national assessments of learning.

In anticipation of the Vision Project, the Working Group on Student Learning Outcomes and Assessment was established by Commissioner Richard Freeland in January 2010 and asked to review campus programs and state policy related to learning outcomes assessment in light of research, literature, national trends, and best practices in a rapidly growing, often controversial, movement in higher education. The Working Group will solicit reactions to the findings and recommendations from its Phase One report which focused on campus-wide assessment programs in public higher education. The group also looks forward to working with participants to address its Phase Two charge of considering state-level issues of accountability and comparability and how best to develop a system-wide learning assessment effort supportive of the Vision Project.

The groups Phase I Report and Charge for Phase II will be made available to participants in advance of the session.

Presenters: Patricia Crosson, Senior Advisor for Academic Policy, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, and members of the Working Group on Student Learning Outcomes and Assessment (.PDF).


Session 3. Quantifying Achievement: Identifying Practical Markers of Success

This session will address the challenges associated with the development of the Vision Indicators. Emphasis will be placed on the accessibility, suitability and reliability of the key data elements and the overall feasibility and utility of the Vision analyses. We will discuss the underlying principles that have guided the Vision indicator choices and review preliminary data analyses that have been shared with the existing Vision working groups and task forces. Details will also be provided with regard to the sharing of our Vision Indicators with National experts. Attention will be given to the Vision’s emphasis on establishing national benchmarks and the importance of ensuring comparability. The overall intent of the session is to share the initial work that has already taken place and to gather valuable feedback regarding all aspects the Vision-related analyses, from identification of indicators to the next steps of assessment and report generation. Significant time will be devoted to audience participation and discussion.

Presenter: Jonathan Keller, Associate Commissioner for Research, Planning, and Information Systems, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education


Session 4. Resetting the Benchmark: Amplifying Workforce Education Outcomes Through Regional and Statewide Collaboration

Massachusetts’ citizens and employers benefit from a robust portfolio of workforce development programs designed and developed to address local employment and training needs. Increased worker mobility and emerging requirements for common industry certifications highlight the need for stronger regional and statewide collaboration to enhance the public education system. This workshop will begin a dialog among the community of workforce education professionals to inform policy, administrative and program improvements at the system level that will address this economic imperative for the Commonwealth.

Presenter: David Cedrone, Associate Commissioner for Economic and Workforce Development, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education


Session 5. College Participation: Where does Massachusetts stand now? Where do we appear to be headed in the future?

This working session will examine disaggregate data on college participation rates by Massachusetts high school graduates. Discussion will focus on where the state most needs to focus attention to assure national leadership in overall college-going rates and to eliminate the most significant disparities in college-going rates among population subgroups.

Presenters: Aundrea Kelley, Deputy Commissioner for P-16 Policy and Collaborative Initiatives, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education and Clantha McCurdy, Senior Deputy Commissioner, Access and Student Financial Assistance, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education

 

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