State Postsecondary Attainment Academy

Through this joint initiative between SHEEO and Education Strategy Group (ESG), cross-sector state teams, led by SHEEOs or higher education system heads, or governor’s advisors are engaged in an 18-month, multistate academy focused on improving postsecondary credential attainment and closing equity gaps. Through the Attainment Academy, participating states (California, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Tennessee) will focus their statewide commitment to their attainment efforts, develop a better sense of the specific policy and programmatic reforms needed to reach their goals, and develop strategies to strengthen the necessary buy-in and support for these critical goals.

The Attainment Academy is supported with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lumina Foundation, and ECMC foundation.

Currently, 43 states have a postsecondary attainment goal. While six have goals set for 2020, the majority have set a target date of 2025 to reach the postsecondary attainment level critical for the economic and workforce needs in their states. Although progress has been made in many states, most have a sizeable gap to close and reach their goal.

Many of these states established their goals between 2008 and 2015, meaning there is likely an entirely new set of stakeholders in place in 2019 who were not highly involved in the initial goal-setting process. A strategy is needed to engage new governors, legislators, and other leaders in this work so they understand how to make it an integral part of their economic development strategy. Just as important, much has been learned over the last several years about the most effective approaches to increasing attainment. The Attainment Academy will provide a forum for states to reflect on what’s working, refine their strategies, and identify areas for cross-sector collaboration.

 This initiative will provide participating SHEEOs and their state teams with meaningful spaces to learn and receive support from their peers and national experts and assigned coaches to:

  • Analyze key indicators along the education-to-workforce pipeline to identify critical loss points, the potential impact of adjustments, and the alignment between current credential/degree supply and occupational demand;
  • Review state attainment plans and make adjustments to initial efforts to meet attainment goals by incorporating lessons learned from systems and states getting results across the country;
  • Identify and adopt new strategies to close equity gaps and support student success among traditionally underserved populations; develop and strengthen alignment between attainment plans and state workforce goals, and
  • Broaden and deepen support for attainment efforts among policymakers, institutional leadership, faculty, and other key constituents and stakeholders.

The Attainment Academy was launched on October 24-25, 2019. The agenda included:

  • States working together to identify gaps and opportunities,
  • Louisiana peer spotlight and group discussion (focus on equity),
  • Indiana peer spotlight and group discussion (focus on workforce goals),
  • State brainstorming sessions, and
  • Robust cross-state networking.

Project Contact: Christina Whitfield, senior vice president and chief of staff