Strengthening Postsecondary Transitions in Minnesota

Since fall 2019, ESG has supported Minnesota’s P-20 Education Partnership to identify a set of high-impact strategies for meeting the state’s postsecondary attainment goal. With the generous support of the Joyce Foundation, this effort engaged leaders from across K-12, higher education, and the workforce to develop a set of targeted recommendations for improving student transitions between K-12 and postsecondary. Guided by a deep commitment to equity, the P-20 Education Partnership focused their vision on expanding opportunity for students from low-income families and Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous students.

Over the course of this work, ESG’s support took several forms. First, ESG collaborated with an expert working group established by the state’s education leadership to conduct a landscape review of available data across the education continuum, audit the state’s existing education dashboards and reports, and launch a process to identify a set of priority indicators for student success. As part of this work, the expert work group also analyzed the state’s performance on the priority indicators, with a particular focus on examining equity gaps for low-income students and students of color. 

Additionally, ESG led benchmarking of Minnesota’s current policies and programs to support student transitions between high school and higher education against national best practices for a set of priority areas identified by the state’s education leadership. These priority areas included: (1) harnessing data to drive policy action toward meeting the state’s postsecondary attainment goal, (2) increasing FAFSA completion and addressing college affordability, (3) identifying and expanding attainment of high-value, industry-recognized credentials and aligned pathway programs, and (4) expanding student access and success in dual credit and other rigorous coursework opportunities. ESG presented our findings and facilitated discussions each month with the P-20 Education Partnership to inform their recommendations for the development of a joint action plan.

Finally, ESG provided strategic guidance to executive leadership on the development of a multi-pronged stakeholder engagement plan, with a particular emphasis on expanding the table to include more individuals of color and individuals representing diverse communities. Moving forward, each member of the P-20 Education Partnership will be expected to engage the stakeholders they represent on the policies and strategies discussed by the P-20 Education Partnership, as well as to lift up feedback and existing practices from their communities to the full group. 

These collective efforts have culminated in an ambitious set of recommendations to drive the state’s work moving forward, which were submitted to the legislature earlier this year. To name a few, the recommendations include: 

– Leveraging the state’s recent legislation on developing a cross-agency goal for increasing FAFSA completion; 

– Prioritizing a set of leading indicators of student success across the transition from K-12 to postsecondary and the workforce, and developing a tool to track the state’s progress and develop policies and strategies to address gaps; 

– Adopting a single statewide definition of a high-quality credential and targeting supports to students and their families to pursue them; and 

– Expanding access to and success in dual credit opportunities for traditionally underrepresented students. 

ESG looks forward to continuing to support Minnesota in 2021 as it works to put these recommendations into action. To learn more and to access a recording of a recent webinar hosted by the Joyce Foundation about this work, click here