Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Incremental Credentialing
Addressing DEI in Incremental Credentialing
While there is some evidence that incremental credentialing programs can lead to positive outcomes such as increased earnings and job opportunities, there is little research on whether these programs close equity gaps. This is a critical gap in our understanding, since the goal of incremental credentialing is to promote equitable outcomes for all learners. Clearly, more research is needed that focuses specifically on equity outcomes in incremental credentialing programs. The research agenda should prioritize questions such as: How can we design and implement incremental credentialing programs that are more equitable and inclusive? What types of wraparound services or supports are most effective in promoting equitable outcomes? What data is being collected for non-credit and credit programs? By answering these questions, we can better understand how incremental credentialing can be used to advance equity and create more inclusive pathways to economic opportunity.
In many ways, inequities in incremental credentialing are a by-product of inequities in the education system at every level. These inequities are largely rooted in the long history of racial injustice in the United States. The 2021 Indicators report shows that higher education opportunity and outcomes remain highly inequitable across several factors—including race/ethnicity groupings, family income, and socioeconomic status. In some cases, equity gaps are larger now than in the past.