Strategic Plan Advocating a New Postsecondary Learning System

Posted by Lumina Foundation on October 31, 2016

Last week, Lumina Foundation announced the release of a strategic plan for 2017-20 that highlights the investments and change strategies necessary to meet Goal 2025: that 60 percent of working-age Americans hold degrees, certificates or other high-quality postsecondary credentials within the next eight years. This strategic plan, the Foundation’s third, comes at the halfway point to Goal 2025.

The plan notes that the U.S. economy has added 11.5 million net new jobs for workers with postsecondary education since 2011, but only 80,000 for those with a high school diploma or less. As a result, recovery from the Great Recession has not been possible for the millions of Americans who lack postsecondary education and have limited options for employment and economic security. Between now and 2025, assuming that current rates of degree and certificate production continue, 16.4 million more Americans must earn postsecondary credentials in order to meet the 60 percent attainment goal and ensure a vibrant and growing economy and an engaged citizenry. Lumina Foundation’s target is to increase attainment by 5.9 million during the next four years. The Plan is built on the premise that a new postsecondary learning system is necessary to reach the goal.

“Our work has taught us that modest, incremental improvements will not suffice; but rather, a fundamental redesign is required,” said Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation. “We must move from a system that is centered on institutions and organized around time, to one that is centered on students, organized around high-quality learning and focused on closing attainment gaps. In short, we must build a true system of postsecondary learning.”

The Strategic Plan identifies three priority populations whose attainment must increase: traditional-aged students now between the ages of 16 and 24, but who currently are not likely to obtain college degrees; returning adult students who have attended college but not obtained a credential; and the nearly 64 million adults with no education beyond high school. The five priorities for action outlined in the Strategic Plan are:

  • A postsecondary learning system in which the top priorities are completion of quality credentials, affordability and closing equity gaps,
  • A new, national system of transparent, high-quality postsecondary credentials,
  • National expansion of competency-based learning,
  • Pathways to initial credentials—including certificates and certifications—for adults without postsecondary education; and
  • An integrated, quality assurance system for postsecondary learning.

“Lumina’s commitment to Goal 2025 and to issues related to equity, increased opportunity and quality credentials for all learners remains the same,” said Danette Howard, chief strategy officer and senior vice president for Lumina Foundation. “But the plan has amplified our strong emphasis on first-generation students, people from low-income families, African American, Hispanic and American Indian students, as well as both returning adult learners and adults without any postsecondary education experience.”

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