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Postsecondary and Workforce Development Institute
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Staff Contacts:
Brian Sponsler
Director, Postsecondary Institute

Lexi Anderson

Mary Fulton

Zeke Perez

Sarah Pingel

studentsThe ECS postsecondary staff strives to keep policymakers on the leading edge of what's happening with state postsecondary systems by gathering, analyzing and disseminating information about current and emerging issues, trends and innovations related to state postsecondary policies, research and practice.

Institute Vision

The Postsecondary Education and Workforce Development Institute continues to be a national leader on state efforts to increase college readiness and completion and to align postsecondary education with state workforce needs. ECS works closely with state policymakers to provide the resources and technical support they need to drive significant improvements in education policy.

Current Initiatives

ECS Blueprint Webinar: Higher Education Accountability Policies and Metrics
July 23, 2015
Education Commission of the States hosted the third in a series of virtual events that explores issues related to postsecondary readiness and success. This webinar focused on efforts to hold postsecondary institutions and systems more account­able for student outcomes and meeting state goals. Archie Cubarrubia, Vice Provost for Institutional Effectiveness, Miami Dade College and David Gardner, Deputy Commissioner of Academic Planning/Chief Academic Officer, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, provided information and insights about federal, state and institutional accountability systems and measures.

Check out the Power Point presentations and additional resources from the following links:

Please contact Mary Fulton, policy analyst, with any questions about the webinar at


MAY 28, 2015
P20 Datasharing and Reporting
Education Commission of the States hosted the second in a series of virtual events that review national trends and uncover state models for sharing student-level data across state agencies and using the data to report student outcomes more accurately. Jean Osumi, Hawai'i DXP Project Director for the Hawai'i P-20 Partnerships for Education, and Brian Prescott, the Director of Policy Research, for WICHE, provided participants with a deeper look at how states are sharing data with one another to account for student mobility. Check out the related resources and PPT slides:

  • State Example – Hawaii: We learned about the statewide, cross-agency, longitudinal data system that links information from early childhood through postsecondary education, and even into the workforce. Learn more here and here
  • WICHE State-to-State Efforts: Exciting progress and results from the cross-state collaboration is underway, known as the Multistate Longitudinal Data Exchange (MLDE).
  • ECS Resources: Check out the P-20 Data Pipeline and Reporting section of the Blueprint report and explore the 50-state database for high school feedback reports and the other policy areas.


MARCH 5, 2015
Download the audio file for the recent webinar, Transfer Policies: Students on the Move.

Related resources:


Blueprint for College Readiness
ECS' Blueprint for College Readiness project focuses on policies and practices that increase the successful transition of students from high school to postsecondary education and ultimately to completing a college degree.

The Blueprint project includes the following activities:

  • Develop a policy framework to improve the alignment between high school and postsecondary education.
  • Produce a comprehensive report and develop and maintain a 50-state database based on the policy framework.
  • Provide technical assistance and testimony to states to help advance their college readiness policy agendas and strategies.

Funded by: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
ECS Contact: Brian Sponsler,


State Financial Aid Redesign
The purpose of ECS' project is to assist states as they develop financial aid policies that will enhance affordability and, by extension, serve as a catalyst for college completion.

ECS will take on the following major activities to accomplish this objective:

  • Convene a State Financial Aid Redesign Thinkers’ Meeting to identify innovative and impactful approaches to state financial aid.
  • Release a 50-state database of financial aid policies to help policymakers and their staff to obtain relevant information about their own state and their peers.
  • Provide targeted technical assistance on financial aid policies through a competitive proposal process to five to 10 states. ECS also will assist states by identifying promising policies, reviewing bill drafts or providing legislative testimony as needed.

Funded by: USA Funds
ECS Contact: Sarah Pingel,


Strategy Labs: State Policy to Increase Higher Education Attainment
ECS is a Lumina Foundation state policy partner for Strategy Labs, contributing information and resources on state policy actions. Strategy Labs are an open platform for state leaders to work toward increasing the number of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025. Lumina’s State Policy Agenda is intended to assist state and system-level policymakers and higher education leaders with reaching Goal 2025.

ECS' work on Strategy Labs includes the following activities:

  • Maintain a 50-state database to track legislation and higher education board policies, from introduction to enactment, on several issues related to increasing attainment rates.
  • Produce monthly legislative summaries of enacted policies on specific topics that support the State Policy Agenda.
  • Identify state higher education policy trends aimed at improving college completion and attainment rates.

Funded by: Lumina Foundation
ECS Contact: Lexi Anderson,

Prior Initiatives:

Boosting College Completion for a New Economy
The Boosting College Completion project aimed to support the efforts of state legislators, particularly chairs of higher education committees, to develop policies that aligned college completion strategies with economic and workforce needs.

Project Outcomes:

  • Provided technical assistance to state legislators and other key leaders to increase college completion.
  • Developed a state policy database to track legislative actions on college completion and workforce alignment across all 50 states.
  • Developed online profiles and customized data and policy profiles for more than 20 states. These profiles highlighted postsecondary completion and economic data to identify areas of needs and propose possible policy actions that states could explore to increase college completion and improve their economies.

Funded by:  The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
ECS Contact: Mary Fulton,

Getting Past Go: A National Policy Initiative to Improve Developmental Studies in Postsecondary Education
Under the Getting Past Go project, ECS staff worked closely with state leaders to develop new policies and strategies to transform remedial and developmental education at postsecondary institutions to increase college completion rates.

Project Outcomes:

  • Provided direct assistance to states in their efforts to transform remedial education policy and practice.
  • Informed policymakers and postsecondary leaders of the latest developments in remedial education reform through The Rundown, an online newsletter.
  • Maintained a comprehensive database of state and system remedial education policies.
  • Developed and managed customized online profiles for all 50 states that tracked state and system efforts to reform remedial education policy and practice.

Funded by: Lumina Foundation
ECS Contact: Mary Fulton,

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