It’s the learning, stupid

This week I had the good fortune to meet Jamie P. Merisotis, President, Lumina Foundation for Education.  As one of the few higher ed funders, he’s pushing an exciting agenda with a big goal:
Over the next 16 years, Lumina wants to increase the percentage of Americans with college degrees—a rate that hasn’t really budged for 40 years—by 20 percentage points.
Here’s a list of strategies; they’ll sound rationale, but read them twice and think about higher ed, a sector devoid of outcomes and data:

  • Higher education must use proven strategies to move students to completion.
  • Quality data must be used to improve student performance and inform policy and decision-making at all levels.
  • The outcomes of student learning must be defined, measured, and aligned with workforce needs.

Here’s the bottom line, “Lumina defines high-quality credentials as degrees and certificates that have well-defined and transparent learning outcomes which provide clear pathways to further education and employment.”
In one of his opening salvos, Jamie reminds us “it’s the learning, stupid.” That’s a radical concept in higher ed that a degree has something to do with demonstrated learning.  It’s good to have Jamie in the fight.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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