Resources

This journal article provides a review of causes and policy solutions of two equity problems: (a) Too many college students from disadvantaged backgrounds in the United States do not complete their coursework with any college credential, whereas others earn degrees or certificates with little labor market value; and (b) many of these students also struggle to pay for college, and some incur debts that they have difficulty repaying. Solutions include those focused on both individual students and institutional reform.

This infographic examines five well-known, publicly available national college rankings systems chosen because of their widespread use and/or their focus on student outcomes.

In a recent virtual event, College Promise hosted a panel featuring top academic voices to discuss this disconnect. The panel heard from CARPE Director, Alexandria Walton Radford, and other experts on top priorities for research in the field, including economic benefits from a national, federal, and state partnership, the future of the workforce, and how this affects postsecondary education and underemployment amongst college graduates.

Projects

In 2022, Ascendium will launch an open Request for Proposals (RFP) aimed at addressing gaps in evidence for strategies that support rural learners from low-income backgrounds in earning degrees and credentials with labor market value. Through this RFP, Ascendium has committed funding for 8-10 projects, employing a diverse mix of research methods and subjects, that respond to one or more overarching research question themes. To optimize the design, implementation, and cross-project learning potential of this initiative, Ascendium awarded a grant to AIR to serve as an intermediary partner to support RFP design, grant management, and synthesis of insights across the funded multi-faceted research efforts.

AIR is supporting the Business Higher Education Forum in developing a logic model, an implementation plan, and an evaluation plan to address the need for more digital technology professionals in the Washington, D.C., region. The goal of this grant is to identify implementation needs and opportunities and develop a scalable and replicable model for increasing the number of digital technology professionals in the region.

AIR developed action-oriented summaries of existing research about approaches to competency-based or focused learning. These summaries provide employers, providers, and state policymakers with relevant information and research, with the overarching goal of supporting the design, development, facilitation, or funding of competency-based or focused learning approaches.

American Institutes for Research is supporting the Technical Assistance team at the Center for Innovation in Postsecondary Education at the University of South Alabama in building the capacity of five HBCUs in North Carolina to serve black adult learners. AIR is helping the TA team build content via webinars about data use and data driven decision making and facilitating conversations about strategic goals and needs of campus staff and faculty to understand capacity needs. The goals of the project is to change policy and practices that support removing barriers for black adult learners to complete a postsecondary credential. 

AIR evaluated several competency-based education (CBE) programs to build evidence related to student outcomes. The evaluation was a response to the minimal availability of evidence-based student achievement and cost outcomes surrounding CBE programs. The goals of the evaluation were to build evidence about student outcomes in CBE programs and provide tools for program leaders and researchers to support evaluation and continuous improvement efforts.

This in-person event, cohosted by the Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest, operated by AIR, and the Michigan Department of Education, built on strategies that align the expectations of new K–12 teachers with the competencies they need in practice. The event covered existing research on new teacher competencies, offered information about high-leverage practices, and provided case studies from educator preparation institutions and K–12 schools and districts in Michigan working together to prepare novice teachers for success. This work aligned the expectations and training for prospective teachers with the competencies they need as teachers.

Researchers from AIR and the Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast & Islands, are working with the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), Office of Postsecondary Commissioner, and others, to develop a work-based learning (WBL) rubric and facilitate a review of the PrepareRI data catalog, a statewide initiative to support young people in developing the skills they need to be successful and competitive for the high-demand jobs of the future. The goals of the project are to support RIDE in evaluating the quality of WBL experiences as well as reviewing its data catalog to identify measures of career readiness for use in future data collection efforts.