INSIDE HIGHER ED: Next Phase for Gates’s Completion Agenda

Career College Central Summary:

  • After spending roughly half a billion dollars on the college completion agenda during the last seven years, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is ready to be more assertive about what it thinks should happen in four key areas of higher education policy.
  • The foundation lays out what an official there calls its "strategy reboot" in a newly released document. It describes a focus on data and information, finance and financial aid, college readiness, and innovation and scale.
  • Going forward, the foundation's advocacy will support federal and state policies in those priority areas — meaning overarching policies rather than specific bills, because charitable organizations face restrictions on lobbying.
  • First up among the foundation's target areas will be the data piece, which also is likely to garner the most attention.
  • The goal is to “create a national data infrastructure that enables consistent collection and reporting of key performance metrics for all students in all institutions that are essential for promoting the change needed to reform the higher education system to produce more career-relevant credentials,” the foundation said in its strategy paper.
  • Gates plans to release its new data reporting framework later this year. The foundation will use it to seek improvements to existing federal data sets. On the state level, it will work with state governments on their higher education accountability systems, including performance-based funding formulas.
  • The foundation has identified 10 states that it will emphasize in this work, most of them with large populations: California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.
  • In addition, future grantees in higher education will be required to use the metrics, the foundation said. That means measuring how grant money is impacting student outcomes, such as graduation rates.

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