January 8, 2019
Bipartisan K-12 Chiefs Outline New Blueprint for Postsecondary Success

Chiefs for Change, a bipartisan network of diverse state and district education chiefs, today released a statement outlining a new blueprint for postsecondary success. Recognizing a responsibility to their students that goes beyond high school, the chiefs’ statement advocates for federal and state requirements to track postsecondary outcomes for individual schools, school districts, colleges, and universities; improved college ranking systems; career and technical education programming tied to high-growth, high-demand fields; and a sustained focus on degree completion and successful transition to meaningful work.

The statement reads, “Although a record number of students now complete high school on time—84 percent as of 2016—we as K-12 systems leaders are deeply concerned that many of our graduates do not have pathways to upward economic mobility. This is especially true for students from low-income families. They face higher rates of unemployment and, when they do pursue postsecondary education, are often burdened by crushing debt.”

In addition to the unsustainable surge in borrowing, currently totaling $1.4 trillion, the statement outlines a range of other problems with the current approach to postsecondary education and career preparation. These include courses and majors that are not tied to strong employment opportunities; obstacles that make it difficult to transfer credits from one institution to another; and expensive technical programs where students earn certificates that are not aligned, recognized, or valued by industry.

Members of Chiefs for Change oversee systems that collectively serve more than 7 million students. The education leaders are working to create and support reliable, affordable postsecondary opportunities for every graduate. These include low- or no-debt options, competency-based pathways to associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, and other approaches that combine online flexibility with accountability, in-person advisory supports, and ongoing opportunities to earn industry-recognized certifications.

“We must own and redouble our commitment to ensuring that students graduate with rigorous college- and career-ready skills,” the chiefs write. “We also need new forms of collaboration between leaders in higher education, state and national policymakers, nonprofit organizations, and regional employer networks to redefine success in postsecondary education and produce the changes young people and working families need and deserve.”

Groups and individuals interested in partnering with Chiefs for Change to support these efforts should please contact Chief External Affairs Officer Leila Walsh at lwalsh@chiefsforchange.org.

About Chiefs for Change

Chiefs for Change is a nonprofit, bipartisan network of diverse state and district education chiefs dedicated to preparing all students for today’s world and tomorrow’s through deeply committed leadership. Chiefs for Change advocates for policies and practices that are making a difference today for students, and builds a pipeline of talented, diverse Future Chiefs ready to lead major school systems.