State Policies Affecting the “Adult Re-Entry Pipeline” in Postsecondary Education: Results of a Fifty-State Inventory

Title: State Policies Affecting the “Adult Re-Entry Pipeline” in Postsecondary Education: Results of a Fifty-State Inventory
Author: Boeke, Marianne
Zis, Stacey
Ewell, Peter T.
Date: 2011
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Description: With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) is engaged in a two year project centered on state policies that foster student progression and success in the “adult re-entry pipeline.” The adult re-entry pipeline consists of the many alternative pathways to obtain a postsecondary credential for individuals who did not complete high school and immediately go on to successful college-level study. Prominent components of this population include those young adults (aged 25-34) who never finished high school, those who began postsecondary study but for various reasons did not finish, and those who never enrolled in postsecondary study.

Established state policies targeted at access and success are centered largely on the traditional path to college. This path focuses on 18-year-old high school graduates who enter postsecondary study within eight or nine months after earning a high school diploma. Prominent among these policies are college awareness and access programs, targeted financial aid, “bridge” programs such as early college high schools, and college-skills development programs. In a growing number of states, such policies are aligned and coordinated in the context of an intentional “P-16” strategy for improving student success. In contrast, state policies aimed at promoting student success in the adult re-entry pipeline tend to be fragmentary and not systematically aligned. Probably more important from a national perspective, they are not well documented or are unknown altogether. The purpose of this report is to attempt to fill this void by presenting results of a fifty-state inventory of state policies and practices designed to foster greater entry into and flow through the state re-entry pipeline. After a brief discussion of how the survey was conducted, major sections of the report examine the scope and definition of responsibility for this function, fiscal and financial policies and practices, programmatic policies and practices, and policies and practices related to information dissemination and access.