Washington — The American Council on Education (ACE) and Strada Education Network announced today a groundbreaking, 2.5-year initiative to help colleges and universities align learning and workforce opportunities to improve student success.
Strada’s $1.5 million grant will allow ACE to research, develop, and pilot a Learner Success Lab that will provide opportunities for postsecondary institutions to strategize and implement effective policies and practices that help students meet the demands of today’s workforce. As part of this initiative to develop student-centered solutions, ACE will leverage Strada’s education consumer survey database of more than 340,000 Americans to understand individuals’ perceptions on the value, relevance, reputation, and quality of their education to career and life experiences.
“While access to higher education has grown significantly in the last 50 years, completion rates have not increased at a pace necessary to meet our nation’s workforce needs,” said ACE President Ted Mitchell. “The Learner Success Lab will allow our institutions, corporations, and other employers to work together to forge new strategies for student and worker success that will have a lasting positive impact on our nation and our economy and enable our graduates to thrive in the globalized world of the 21st century.”
The model for the Learner Success Lab will be ACE’s highly successful Internationalization Lab, which brings together campus leaders and faculty to advance campus-wide internationalization and global engagement. Once the Learner Success Lab is launched, teams of higher education administrators and faculty will participate in a 12-month strategic planning process with the goal of developing policy and practice strategies at their own institutions to integrate higher education learning and academic credentials with workforce-ready skills.
“We know the pathways to completion are diverse, and our goal at Strada is to help millions more people achieve completion with a purpose. Any effective effort to improve learner success must consider ways to reduce barriers to student mobility and recognize prior learning and transfer of credit,” said William D. Hansen, president and CEO of Strada Education Network. “We are eager to see how this initiative will address the challenges education consumers face as they navigate postsecondary education.”
As part of the initiative, ACE also will convene a National Task Force on the Transfer of Credit. Its members will undertake a comprehensive review of the research on credit for prior learning, competency-based education, and military training, coupled with an assessment of successful credit transfer practices and recommendations to improve the transfer and award of credit that benefit learners and institutions. The task force’s work is made possible by grants from Strada and the Charles Koch Foundation.
Currently, only about half of students enrolled at a four-year college graduate within six years and even fewer students at two-year institutions go on to graduate. According to most estimates, roughly 65 percent of jobs in the U.S. economy require some form of postsecondary education. Yet, fewer than half of Americans ages 25-64 hold a credential beyond high school.
ACE is a membership organization that mobilizes the higher education community to shape effective public policy and foster innovative, high-quality practice. As the major coordinating body for the nation’s colleges and universities, our strength lies in our diverse membership of more than 1,700 colleges and universities, related associations, and other organizations in America and abroad. ACE is the only major higher education association to represent all types of U.S. accredited, degree-granting institutions: two-year and four-year, public and private.
Strada Education Network is a national social impact organization dedicated to improving lives by forging clearer and more purposeful pathways between education and employment. The Network engages partners across education, nonprofits, business and government to focus relentlessly on students’ success throughout all phases of their working lives. Together, we address critical college to career challenges through strategic philanthropy, research and insights, and mission-aligned affiliates. Learn more at StradaEducation.org. The Charles Koch Foundation supports research, educational programs, and dialogue to advance an understanding of how people can best live together in peace and prosperity and challenge convention. The Charles Koch Foundation provides grants to support a wide range of inquiry including criminal justice and policing reform, free speech and open inquiry, foreign policy, economic opportunity, and innovation.
Audrey Hamilton (ACE)
Amy Dunham (Strada Education Network)