With the support of SHEEO’s Executive Committee and their commitment to the 2017-2018 Vision and Priorities, SHEEO leadership and staff will engage and lead our members and states in achieving a vision of student success where all students, regardless of socioeconomic status or demographic category, have equal opportunity to enroll and likelihood to succeed in postsecondary education. Students will earn a high quality degree or credential that prepares them for success in society, the workforce, and in their civic roles. Our mission, efforts, and activities will assist our members in closing equity gaps and making the necessary gains to reach their state attainment goals. SHEEO engages its members to advance the fulfillment of the goals of its themes.


As a membership organization, SHEEO must first and foremost serve and assist its members. Therefore, activities under this theme are the core services, supported by member dues and meeting income, that represent SHEEO’s basic and ongoing functions. These include member support (websites, surveys, visits to members upon request, the salary report, updating members on association activities), the conduct of the annual meeting and policy conference, preparation and dissemination of the annual State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) report and its interactive features, maintenance of the SHEEO website regarding authorization by states of programs and institutions, engagement with the federal government on behalf of members and the association, and connection with news media. 

States’ roles in higher education are constantly shifting in response to critical issues. SHEEO will articulate the larger societal role of higher education and its broad and diverse missions and purposes. SHEEO will anticipate and respond to pertinent issues facing our member states and will continue to conduct queries on pertinent issues where members request assistance. SHEEO also will work with member agency staff to determine which issues are of critical importance to highlight at summer meetings, connect state experts with their peers, and model best practices for SHEEO agency activities. SHEEO will engage with the federal government and with other education associations to share the perspectives and interests of its members. Finally, SHEEO will highlight to members critical topics and practices that promise to advance student success.


College readiness has been at the center of education and economic development policy arenas for several years. While SHEEO recognizes that student readiness for college is influenced by a variety of factors, research continues to point toward teacher quality as a highly critical factor. Through its P-16 Collaborative, SHEEO will focus on improving teacher quality through partnerships between P-12, state agencies of higher education, and colleges and universities, in alignment with the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Under ESSA, states are required to submit plans to the U.S. Department of Education that address teacher preparation, in addition to academic standards, accountability goals and systems, achievement testing, and low-performing schools.

ESSA presents opportunities for SHEEO to serve its members in innovative and expanded ways. SHEEO is currently partnering with the National Association of System Heads (NASH) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) as states develop plans to implement ESSA. In addition, SHEEO’s unique mission positions it to deepen strategic collaborations with the Department of Education and other organizations.

The cross-sector unifying goal is policy and practice reform that addresses educator preparation at the intersection of college readiness and education equity with an emphasis on teacher and leader quality. This shared goal will guide the work of SHEEO and include examination of the role of educator preparation programs (EPPs) at minority serving institutions (MSIs) and their role in diversifying the teacher pipeline and preparing competent teachers to impact low-wealth communities.


College affordability for students and families has grown in relevance as an issue and barrier to student success. As such, it is an area of focus for SHEEO and for our members. SHEEO is striving to address affordability concerns with two projects. First, SHEEO will update the “Moving the Needle” federal-state partnership concept to address affordability through targeted financial aid. This update will investigate how to incorporate adult, non-traditional, and part-time students into the existing proposal’s framework as well as how the proposal fits into the evolving discussions around federal and state partnerships and college affordability challenges. Second, SHEEO is updating its periodic survey of “State Tuition, Fee, and Financial Aid” policies to more fully understand how these policies impact and affect college affordability for students.

Understanding college affordability, including:
• the complex relationship(s) between state funding, institutional capacity, and tuition and fee rates;
• the cost of attendance, which includes living expenses and other considerations beyond tuition and fee charges;
• the sticker shock students face when they consider postsecondary education before applying for financial aid; and
• the barriers created by student loans, specifically, how student success and credential type may impact the ability to pay back those loans.


Student success is a SHEEO priority. Helping students succeed in postsecondary education, especially those from underserved populations (e.g., black, Hispanic, and Native American students, students from low-income backgrounds, and adult students) is critical to meeting our members’ attainment goals. Goals will not be met unless we close attainment gaps for these groups of students.

SHEEO will focus its efforts on programs to help non-traditional adult students engage (or re-engage) with postsecondary education and earn a credential of value. SHEEO anticipates a second, multi-year phase to roll out and pilot “Adult Promise” programs in the five selected states. These programs will address the unique affordability challenges of adult students that arise from exhausted financial aid eligibility, dependent care issues, and a host of other financial issues that create barriers for adult student success. Perhaps more importantly, these programs will incorporate support and services geared to helping adult students stay on the path to completing their desired credential.

States and institutions are implementing a number of new policies and programs with the laudable intent to improve student success and ultimately credential attainment. Programs such as outcomes-based funding formulas, “15 to Finish” campaigns, and developmental education reform, among others, are often implemented with insufficient research to understand their influence, and initial results from early adopters show mixed results depending upon whom you ask or which organization conducted the analysis. SHEEO will investigate how best to assess these reforms and lend its evidence-based perspective to the conversation on the effectiveness of these reforms.


The focus of theme five is on quality of student learning and a state’s role in quality assurance. This includes the assessment of learning outcomes, institutional effectiveness and integrity, standards for the authorization of institutional operations at the state level, and national accreditation.

SHEEO will continue to focus on quality of student learning with the Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Quality Student Learning. This initiative involves higher education leaders, institutions, and faculty from more than a dozen states working together to evaluate authentic student work in a way that allows faculty, institutions, and states to consistently assess not only student achievement of essential student learning outcomes, but their own effectiveness in promoting student success.

Due to the focus on the state role in quality assurance and the role states play in the regulatory triad (states, regional accreditors, and the federal government), the quality assurance system is more important than ever as the continued growth of new educational entities offering degrees, certificates, and other credentials continues to flood the higher education market—and as traditional and historic institutions are challenged by these new competitors and the globalization of knowledge and information. SHEEO is committed to strengthening the triad, documenting the array of state roles related to higher education quality assurance, and helping states strengthen their quality assurance systems.


In 2017 and 2018, SHEEO will provide support and assistance to its members in a number of ways.

• SHEEO will provide technical assistance to improve the ability of SHEEO members to use linked workforce and postsecondary data to inform policy and provide consumer information. SHEEO will help members develop the capacity to analyze returns on investment (for individuals and states) for higher education, supply and demand for postsecondary credentials, employability and wages of graduates, and student debt levels.

• SHEEO will promote holistic approaches to measuring post-collegiate outcomes. State and national attainment goals are predicated on the assumption that increased educational levels will lead to improved economies and a higher quality of life. SHEEO will explore means of measuring societal benefits of increased attainment, and the social utility (the non-economic value) of degrees and credentials.

• SHEEO will identify means to define credentials of value and to track certifications. States, the federal government, and foundations express keen interest in sub-associate credentials, but there is little consensus about how to define or collect information about them.

• SHEEO will work with its members and partners to develop a better understanding of these credentials and their relationship to the workforce and needs of employers.