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Evidence for Set an Attainment Goal

Evidence for Set an Attainment Goal

Recognizing that a strong set of goals is vital to building a postsecondary attainment agenda, Lumina Foundation has partnered with the Center for Urban Education at the University of Southern California to learn how states have embedded equity principles into state attainment goal-setting. Two promising practices have emerged from a study of states that have made explicit commitments to equity within postsecondary attainment goals:

  • Equity-focused state attainment goals are anchored in the state’s unique economic and demographic contexts, and make clear for whom and by how much higher education participation and success must increase in order to reach an overall attainment goal.
  • Equity-focused state attainment goals emphasize state and institutional responsibility to better serve all state residents.

Equity-focused attainment goals are anchored in a robust analysis of workforce needs and make clear that all groups in the state must be given the opportunity to fully participate in that future workforce by attaining a high-quality postsecondary credential.

States are increasingly realizing that to support their efforts to increase overall postsecondary attainment and close gaps in attainment for underrepresented populations, they can embed equity principles in their statewide goals, plans and policies for postsecondary education. Lumina Foundation and the Center for Urban Education produced a Work Planning Resource Guide for states that offers specific advice for embedding equity in state goals and plans. States can use six key strategies:

  • Know your state. Conduct a rigorous analysis of state economic and demographic contexts.
  • Create goals. Create attainment goals that are clear, ambitious, and reflect equity priorities.
  • Build a careful process. Start the equity conversation by establishing a deliberate, inclusive process of plan development.
  • Craft a strong message. Develop a clear “story” about the equity imperative in your state.
  • Know what works. Identify policy assets and levers that can reinforce equity-focused attainment goals.
  • Make the plan a living document. Monitor and report publicly on progress and update goals regularly.