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Reports and Briefs

Co-Design, Co-Delivery, and Co-Validation: Creating High School and College Partnerships to Increase Postsecondary Success

Co-authored by Andrea Venezia and Joel Vargas at Jobs for the Future, is part of a series, “Ready or Not: It’s Time to Rethink the 12th Grade.” The introductory paper in the series suggests a “shared transition zone,” in which secondary and postsecondary education systems and institutions would collaborate in key ways to bridge existing gaps and substantially increase the percentage of youth prepared for college and careers. While high schools and colleges have their own distinct roles in educating students—and are trying to make improvements in their respective systems—their shared interest in student success comes closest to converging at the end of high school and the beginning of college. The aim of this paper is to frame how educators can build upon this momentum to increase collective responsibility and solutions across systems.

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Leveraging the Common Core to Support College and Career Readiness in California

The report compares state policy leaders’ expectations for and high school educators’ early experiences with the Common Core. As the state passes the five-year milestone in implementation, the report recommends ways to better leverage California’s “college and career readiness standards” to help improve outcomes for graduating students.

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Organizing for Success: California’s Regional Education Partnerships

This report examines 19 regional education partnerships in California that include representatives from among K-12 and postsecondary education and business and community organizations. The study reveals what 37 participants identified as critical components of their work, challenges they have encountered, and promising strategies they share to help inform the work of new and existing partnerships. This information is helpful as the state and philanthropic foundations continue to invest millions of dollars in regional efforts.

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Innovations Designed for Deeper Learning in Higher Education

This report examines technology-enabled innovations at seven postsecondary institutions in the Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) Building Blocks for College Completion grant program. Using the Hewlett Foundation’s definition of Deeper Learning as a reference point, this report analyzes the innovations and approaches of the grantees in promoting Deeper Learning and student engagement in higher education. The grantees adopted various innovations including supplementing existing courses, supporting the adoption of blended learning and complete course redesign. The brief’s findings indicate that students need support to transition to the more active role in their own learning that Deeper Learning demands and that faculty need support, training, and time to create, implement, and sustain the technology-enabled reforms.

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State Policy Leadership in Higher Education – Six Case Studies

This report provide six mini-case studies of higher education policy reforms enacted in other states, exploring the important role that state policy leadership played in developing, promoting, and implementing these policies aimed at improving higher education outcomes, and discussing the relevance of each reform effort for California. This report follows two reports: an update of California higher education performance, Average Won’t Do, and A New Vision for California Higher Education, an effort to engage stakeholders around a vision more suited to today’s students and economic conditions than the 1960 Master Plan. Together, the reports underscore the urgency of efforts to improve leadership and policy for higher education in California, and offer ideas for how this might be accomplished.

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Maximizing Resources for Student Success by Reducing Time- and Credits-to-Degree

This report addresses the problem of excessive time-to-degree for many students at public regional universities and examines strategies and practices leaders can use to support timely degree completion, especially for low-income students. The report provides many examples of institutions that have used these strategies, describes available evidence of their effectiveness, addresses potential challenges to implementation, and offers recommendations to university leaders interested in using these practices to improve timely graduation. This report is part of HCM Strategists’ Maximizing Resources for Student Success project that is aimed at making college more affordable.

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From Community College to University: Expectations for California’s New Transfer Degrees

This report, written by IHELP for the Public Policy Institute of California, analyzes the progress of the California Community Colleges’ “associate degrees for transfer” that were created as a result of state-enacted legislation in 2010. The degrees are designed to facilitate community college students’ admission to the California State University system and ease completion of a bachelor’s degree. The report finds the reform is leading to the development of clearer transfer pathways for students, although challenges remain, and offers recommendations for improving the implementation effort. Click here for the technical appendix.

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A New Vision for California Higher Education: A Model Public Agenda

This report draws on various reports and other sources of information to construct a model public agenda to address the mounting challenges facing California higher education, intended to inspire broad discussion potentially leading to an official public agenda for California higher education. The model envisions region-based planning and heightened collaboration at the regional level, guided by effective state-level policy leadership and high-level staff support to fulfill critical fiscal, advisory, and accountability roles.

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Next Generation Learning Challenges Innovation Briefs

This publication series, written by IHELP and funded and published by EDUCAUSE, looks at the strategies and tools used by Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) grant recipients to implement their new “breakthrough model” schools. NGLC is an initiative to improve postsecondary readiness and completion by identifying and scaling technology-enabled approaches to secondary and postsecondary education, especially for low-income students.

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Social Policy Report: Common Core Development and Substance


This new brief published by the Society for Research in Child Development uses research and literature to provide an overview of the Common Core Standards, including its development and implementation, its relationship to college and career readiness and its effects on educational practice. On pages 16-17 of the brief, Andrea Venezia provided a commentary entitled, “Tracking Common Core Implementation in California,” in which she discusses key challenges of implementation for grades 9-14 and provides an overview of some of California’s work in this area.


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Average Won’t Do: Performance Trends in California Higher Education as a Foundation for Action

This report is the fifth in a series analyzing California’s postsecondary performance in the areas of preparation, affordability, participation, completion, benefits and finance. The report provides a summary of trends in each performance area over the past decade and offers a breakdown of performance by region and race/ethnicity.

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Workforce Investments: State Strategies to Preserve Higher-Cost Career Education Programs in Community and Technical Colleges

This report addresses the challenge of financing community college career and technical education programs. It examines finance policies and practices in 20 states and identifies five strategies that may help preserve higher-cost CTE/workforce programs. The report is intended as a resource for education leaders and policymakers in California.

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Career Opportunities: Career Technical Education and the College Completion Agenda – Part IV: Aligning Policy with Mission for Better Outcomes

This report is the culmination of a four-part series on career technical education in the California Community Colleges. Based on a comprehensive analysis of potential barriers to more effective CTE, the report offers a set of suggestions for policy changes intended as a resource for the community college system as it continues to work to improve student success.

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Washington State Student Achievement Initiative Policy Study: Final Report

This report, jointly produced by IHELP and the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Columbia University, analyzes the impact of the Washington State Student Achievement Initiative (SAI) on college efforts to improve student outcomes and on student outcomes. SAI, a policy adopted by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, draws on intermediate measures of student progress to reward colleges for improvements in student achievement. This three-year evaluation includes both data analysis and extensive interviewing of faculty and staff.

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Career Opportunities: Career Technical Education and the College Completion Agenda – Part III: Promising CTE Policies from Across the States

This report is the third in the four-part series on career technical education in the California Community Colleges. It examines policies in other states that might offer helpful lessons for shaping CTE in California to better meet student and employer needs. It provides examples in the following five policy areas: degree and certificate programs offered; curriculum structure and delivery; high school – community college – workplace pathways; financing CTE – college and student costs; and accountability.

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On Balance: Lessons in Effective Coordination from the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges – An Organizational Perspective

This report examines the importance of effective coordination of postsecondary education in boosting educational attainment and economic competitiveness. It describes a case study of the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC), and analyzes the key strategies and conditions that have led to the effectiveness of the Board as a coordinating agency over locally governed colleges. The report includes a self-assessment instrument intended for use by other states that seek to improve the effectiveness of their own postsecondary education coordination to better serve students and meet state needs.

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Measuring Institutional Conditions that Support Student Success in the California Community Colleges

This report, prepared by IHELP for the University of California All Campus Consortium on Research for Diversity (UC/ACCORD), looks at the opportunities and challenges in measuring institutional conditions that support student success. The report draws from the literature and ongoing research to describe the significant challenges in identifying, defining and measuring indicators of supportive institutional conditions in the community colleges. It offers a list of possible indicators and existing sources of data that could be used as a “starting point” in defining a set that could fairly and accurately capture the conditions at a particular institution.

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Career Opportunities: Career Technical Education and the College Completion Agenda – Parts I and II (summarized)

This policy brief is a summary of the first two reports in a series on career technical education in the California Community Colleges. The first report analyzes the complex organizational structure and funding arrangements for the CTE mission and the closely related economic and workforce development mission, while the second report examines the full set of career-technical certificate and associate degree programs offered by the CCC. The brief identifies key issues discussed in the two reports that will need to be addressed as efforts proceed to increase the effectiveness of CTE.

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Career Opportunities: Career Technical Education and the College Completion Agenda – Part II: Inventory and Analysis of CTE Programs in the California Community Colleges

This report is the second in the four-part series on career technical education in the California Community Colleges. It examines the full set of career-technical certificate and associate degree programs offered across the system as a basis for understanding how well the CTE programs are meeting students’ needs to identify, enroll in, and complete programs with real value in today’s labor market. In the report, researchers evaluate the findings against a set of criteria, based on a literature review, that characterize an effective CTE mission and identify key issues that will need to be addressed to increase the effectiveness of CTE.

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