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People who want to learn but can’t afford or get access to education and training after high school should be helped with high-quality programs that result in degrees, certificates, and other credentials. As always, though, the question is, how do we ensure that new programs live up to their promise of offering pathways to new and better careers?
Among the ideas out there – increasing the value of Pell Grants and making them available for short-term programs, which would allow grants for eight-week programs; currently, they must be at least 15 weeks.
Lumina and several of our partners have been working hard on the quality issue. We convened a year-long Quality Credentials Task Force that looked at all the ways that credentials prepare students to keep learning and earning. The task force report created a broad umbrella definition of quality that applies across all credentials.
We also asked the experts at Rutgers University’s Employment and Education Center to provide a framework to guide the development of standards and processes that evaluate the quality aspects of shorter-term, non-degree credentials.
Once complete, students must be able to show their new, valuable competencies to the world at large.
In a nutshell, what we found is that non-degree credentials are of high quality if they are well-designed and include relevant instruction, accessibility, transparency, portability, and assessments. Once complete, students must be able to show their new, valuable competencies to the world at large, including educators and employers.
Clearly, more work lies ahead. We need help on several fronts from policymakers, educators, employers and advocates:
The time is right to act with new ideas to increase educational attainment while ensuring high quality. At Lumina we believe that all of us have crucial roles to play as we support innovative new policies and put essential practices to work. Together, on behalf of America’s students, let’s ensure that all quality learning counts.
Michelle Van Noy is the Associate Director of the Education and Employment Research Center at the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers.
Heather A. McKay of Rutgers is the director of the Education and Employment Research Center at the School of Management and Labor Relations.Back to News