Quality & Outcomes

Policy Recommendations

Federal postsecondary education policy focuses too much on institutional concerns such as compliance, but neglects the important values of quality and outcomes. This undermines the ability of providers to innovate and address systemic problems that keep far too many students from completing and finding success in the workforce. Federal policy needs to be updated to focus on quality and student outcomes, including completion, employment, equity, and value.

Educational providers need to help students achieve strong educational, financial and employment outcomes, including completion, equity, employment, and value. Policymakers should hold institutions accountable for student outcomes and reward those who serve today’s students well.

Put Students First
Enhance program and institutional accountability to improve student outcomes and success by maintaining floor-level accountability and integrating new metrics, including program level repayment.
Strengthen Current Systems
Reform the contract the federal government has with other oversight bodies, including states and accreditors, to place a greater focus on student outcomes over compliance.
Focus Accreditors on Outcomes
Expect accreditors to prioritize student outcomes and create a more transparent, agile and responsive accreditation system by allowing for differentiation, setting standards, and requiring transparency.

Federal data systems need to first accurately reflect the makeup of today’s students by counting all types of students. With improved access to data, students and members of the public can better understand the return on investment that programs at colleges and universities deliver to students.

Count All Students
Improve data systems to reflect all of today’s students and provide information about the value of a prospective student’s education.
Strengthen Transparency
Implement a consumer friendly, easy-to-use system for students and their families to navigate postsecondary education choices.

The Keys to Quality

The key to assuring higher education quality in the U.S. is accreditation, but federal accreditation policy has become almost entirely focused on compliance and bureaucratic procedures, instead of what counts: student outcomes and results.

Multiple Pathways

The world of credentials is much broader than a 2- or 4- year degree. One in four Americans has a non-degree credential or certificate. We propose an on-ramp for high-quality new providers to receive federal recognition and access to funding.

Program-Level Repayment

A growing number of advocates and policy experts believe that institutions of higher education should be held accountable for repayment rates based on their specific program of study within the institution. 

Featured Resources

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    Over the last two years, the COVID-19 pandemic and the changing needs of today’s students have necessitated an unprecedented shift towards online learning. Ins…

  • Outsourcing Online Programs: Policy Options for OPM Oversight

    As a form of outsourcing in higher education, online program management (OPM) is not remarkable. Universities regularly, and with little fanfare, outsource man…

  • Completion with Quality and Value: Why Credit for Prior Learning Stands out as a College Completion Fund Strategy

    While the fate of the Build Back Better Act is currently unclear, there are parts of the proposed legislation that could survive in some form. One important pa…

  • Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Backgrounder

    Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is a federal provision that requires institutions to establish criteria a student must meet in order to remain eligible fo…