States set and implement policies that affect their educational systems, workforce, and employers. Examples of state policy include governor-led, statewide financial assistance programs for short-term postsecondary courses and programs; legislation to support credentialing strategies; higher education system approaches regarding microcredentials; and remedial education policies.
Since 2016, FastForward has operated a statewide short-term credential program in Virginia. It meets a dual need, as both students and employers want more options for short-term programs that lead to credentials of value.
In 2021, Florida’s legislature passed HB 1505, which requires public postsecondary institutions to award students a nationally recognized digital badge when they complete core courses in general education that demonstrate career readiness. The requirement went into effect for students entering institutions in Fall 2022. The State Board of Education and the Board of Governors for the State University System jointly appoint faculty committees to identify competencies in general education core that demonstrate career readiness and thus qualify students for the badge. The badge – a verifiable, interoperable, and nationally recognized digital credential – must be awarded and recognized by every public postsecondary institution in the state.
Colorado passed multiple bills in 2022 to support credentialing strategies and assist disadvantaged students:
In June 2023, the Texas Legislature unanimously passed a law that changes state funding for community colleges; followed by signing of House Bill 8 by Gov. Greg Abbott. The law resulted from recommendations from the Texas Commission on Community College Finance that the legislature should distribute the lion’s share of state funding to schools based on measurable outcomes that address workforce needs. The new funding mechanism will:
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is charged with implementing these changes.
Remedial Education – Research shows that few students who took remedial or developmental courses earned a certificate or associate degree within six years, and even fewer transferred to a four-year university. Research has also shown that Black and Latino students enroll at disproportionately high rates in remedial classes. Some states have passed legislation guiding remedial education. In California, Assembly Bill 1705 would mostly ban remedial math and English classes, which cannot transfer with credit to four-year universities. Bill 1705 addresses concerns that some students are still being funneled into remedial classes despite a 2017 law designed to limit that practice. The earlier law, Assembly Bill 705, prohibited colleges from placing students in remedial classes unless those students are highly unlikely to succeed in transfer-level coursework. The new law would establish stricter rules detailing the limited scenarios in which colleges can enroll students in remedial classes.
The political climate for DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) has contributed to calls for major changes in DEI policy. At least two dozen bills on DEI were introduced in 15 states in 2023—all seeking to undo DEI efforts at higher education institutions. In some states, higher education institutions are rolling back their DEI programs in anticipation of policy changes, or moving their DEI operations into Student Success units. The terms, DEI, are also being reconsidered in light of policy changes.