Content Areas Archive

Postsecondary Education Reform Projects and Publications

« Back

An Evaluation of the Lumina Foundation’s Focus Areas in Postsecondary Education

RFA is partnering with Frontline Solutions and Engage R+D to track how work is progressing within and across Lumina Foundation’s Focus Areas for improving postsecondary credential attainment rates.  The evaluation will document lessons learned as…

Research Support for the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association

RFA provided qualitative research support to the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) as it engaged in data collection to inform a new strategic direction for the organization. Work included assessing state higher education…

State and Local College Promise Programs: Examining Policy and Practice

Statewide College Promise programs are becoming increasingly common as college costs and student debt rise. Yet to date there has been little to no systematic research that closely examines how these programs are constructed or…

Providing Policy Guidance and Support to Increase Student Success in Higher Education

RFA is partnering with postsecondary institutions in five states to improve the state policy context and conditions necessary to improve student retention and graduation.  This two-year project includes state-level policy scans, as well as assessments…

Expanding the Knowledge Base on State-Level Postsecondary Outcomes-Based Funding

RFA is conducting a comprehensive analysis of state-level postsecondary Outcomes-Based Funding policy in six states. This mixed-methods evaluation includes a policy analysis to develop a nuanced picture of the parameters of OBF in each state;…

Examining Reforms in Postsecondary Student Placement Policies

For several years, RFA has been examining how postsecondary systems and institutions have reformed their approach to student placement in first-year classes. Until recently it was common practice to place students based on a cut…

Examining Assessment and Placement Exam Reforms in Community Colleges

Given the barrier that developmental education can present in students' timely progress to degree completion, RFA is examining assessment and placement reform efforts across five states--California, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia--and the implementation of…

A Study of College Learning Communities: Temple University

The Learning Communities program at Temple University aimed to improve the first semester experience and the retention of Temple freshmen. RFA investigated Learning Communities in three different schools within the university; seeking to understand how…

Affordability, Access, Success: A Framework for Examining Statewide College Promise Programs

Are statewide college Promise programs an effective way to increase college access and success? It's hard to say.  While these programs are becoming more common, they vary widely along a number of dimensions.  RFA's new…

Statewide College Promise Programs: Balancing Affordability, Access, and Student Success

State-level postsecondary policymaking is daunting. Policymakers navigate through myriad fiscal, political, and ideological constraints and opportunities as they strive to address pressing state concerns or goals. While researchers and advocates may point to “perfect” policy…

The Case of Delaware’s SEED Scholarship: A Well-Established but Lesser-Known Promise Program

Research for Action has studied statewide Promise programs since 2017, with in-depth analysis in four states—Delaware, Nevada, Oregon, and Tennessee. Our research in these states includes an extensive review of legislative and policy documents; 146…

The Case of Nevada Promise: Promise Replication in a Different State Context

Research for Action has studied statewide Promise programs since 2017, with in-depth analysis in four states—Delaware, Nevada, Oregon, and Tennessee. Our research in these states includes an extensive review of legislative and policy documents; 146…

The Case of Oregon Promise: An Early Adopter Focused on Broadening Access

Research for Action has studied statewide Promise programs since 2017, with in-depth analysis in four states—Delaware, Nevada, Oregon, and Tennessee. Our research in these states includes an extensive review of legislative and policy documents; 146…

The Case of Tennessee Promise: A Uniquely Comprehensive Promise Program

Research for Action has studied statewide Promise programs since 2017, with in-depth analysis in four states—Delaware, Nevada, Oregon, and Tennessee. Our research in these states includes an extensive review of legislative and policy documents; 146…

Research Brief: Measuring the Effects of Outcomes-Based Funding on Certificate Production: Challenges, Inconsistencies and Recommendations for Future Research

Outcomes-based funding (OBF) has become an increasingly common tool for states seeking to improve student outcomes, and the inclusion of certificates in OBF policies has been subject to considerable scrutiny. But studying the effects of OBF…

Implementation and Impact of Outcomes-Based Funding in Tennessee

Outcomes-based funding (OBF) is a term used to define state and system-level higher education funding policies linking public higher education dollars to key student outcomes such as credit completion, retention and graduation (Snyder, 2016). Outcomes-based…

Implementation and Impact of Outcomes-Based Funding in Indiana

Outcomes-based funding (OBF) is a term used to define state and system-level higher education funding policies linking public higher education dollars to key student outcomes such as credit completion, retention and graduation (Snyder, 2016). Outcomes-based…

Summary of OBF Impact on Student Outcomes in Tennessee and Indiana

From 2014-2016, Research for Action (RFA) worked closely with state officials in Tennessee and Indiana to obtain, verify, and analyze data obtained from Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) to determine the impact of each state’s…

Examining OBF Policy Implementation and Student-Level Effects in Tennessee, Ohio, and Indiana

From 2014-2016, Research for Action (RFA) conducted a comparative, mixed methods study in Indiana, Tennessee and Ohio to: examine OBF state-level policy formation and implementation; explore institutional-level implementation and identify contextual factors that affect it;…

Implementation and Impact of Outcomes-Based Funding in Three States: High-Level Findings

Outcomes-based funding (OBF) is a term used to describe state and system-level higher education funding policies linking public dollars to key student outcomes such as credit completion, retention and graduation. Outcomes-based funding models are a…

College Affordability in PA: How Did We Get Here, and What Can Be Done?

A postsecondary credential is quickly becoming the only reliable gateway to the middle class. A college certificate or degree is associated with higher household income and stability, better health, and a stronger, more competitive economy.…

Development and Implementation of Multiple Measures for College Placement Across States and Systems: Phase 1 and Phase 2 Report Summary

Research shows that between 24 and 33 percent of students are misplaced when entering college, and therefore required to complete unnecessary developmental education courses that hinder postsecondary completion. More specifically, nearly 40 percent of community…

Lessons from Multiple Measures Reforms across Six Two-Year Colleges in Three States: Phase 2 Report

This report is a companion to Research for Action’s (RFA’s) earlier examination of the policy context in three states—California, North Carolina, and Wisconsin—where Multiple Measures reforms are underway in different forms. In this document, we…

From Policy to Practice: Tracing the Development and Implementation of Placement and Diagnostic Assessment across States, Systems, and Community Colleges — Phase I Report

Nationwide, postsecondary policymakers and administrators are responding to emerging research on whether placement exams are reliable gauges of students’ readiness for credit-bearing coursework. Specifically, the widespread use of placement tests may belie their effectiveness in…

Tracing the Development of Multiple Measures for College Placement across States and Systems

Research shows that between 24 and 33 percent of students are “misplaced” when entering college and therefore required to complete developmental education courses that hinder postsecondary completion. More specifically, nearly 40 percent of  community college…

From Policy to Practice: Tracing the Development and Implementation of Placement and Diagnostic Assessment across States, Systems, and Community Colleges — Phase 2 Report

National initiatives to raise K-12 standards and align them to postsecondary entrance requirements have prompted states and/or state postsecondary systems to enact policies to improve alignment among postsecondary readiness standards, postsecondary placement and diagnostic exams,…

From Policy to Practice: Tracing the Development and Implementation of Placement and Diagnostic Assessments across States, Systems, and Community Colleges — Phase 1 and Phase 2 Summary

Given the barrier that developmental education can present in students’ timely progress to degree completion and the variation in its effectiveness, Research for Action (RFA) examined assessment and placement reform efforts across five leading states—California,…

Issue Brief: Higher Education Accountability

There is broad agreement that a postsecondary education is more important than ever. But college costs are rising while funding levels are dwindling. This PACER Issue Brief examines the issue of higher education accountability and…