Postsecondary education and credentials are key to economic mobility for individuals and economic competitiveness for our nation. Yet too many low-income adults and disadvantaged youth are locked out of the opportunity to earn credentials and are falling further and further behind. The Center advocates for better policies, more investment, and increased political will to address this national challenge. Learn more »

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Reengineer Education and Skill Development Systems: Federal, state, and local policies can help increase opportunity for low-income adults and disadvantaged youth by connecting education and training systems and funding innovative education and training strategies. Learn More »
Expand Student Financing and Supports: The nation needs robust student financing policies and student support services to ensure more low-income adults and disadvantaged youth complete postsecondary credentials. Learn More »
Increase Investment in Services and Capacity: States and communities can better serve more low-income youth and disadvantaged adults who seek postsecondary credentials by increasing investment in and coordination of funding for education and training. Learn More »
Strengthen Data and Accountability: Education and training systems should work together to better evaluate individual outcomes and improve services for low-income adults and disadvantaged youth. Learn More »

Oct 1, 2015  |  PERMALINK »

Live Webcast of National Credentialing Summit

By Evelyn Ganzglass

On October 5, CLASP, Lumina Foundation, and the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce will co-convene the National Credentialing Summit.  Along with co-convening the summit, CLASP has released numerous resources on improving America’s credentialing system.

The summit’s opening session, "Setting the Stage: Transforming Our Fragmented Credentialing System Into One That Works Better for Students, Employers and the Nation," will be WEBCAST LIVE. Jim Lehrer, former executive editor and anchor of PBS NewsHour, will moderate this session. He’ll facilitate a distinguished panel in examining dilemmas posed by our nation's lack of a transparent, connected credentialing system. The opening session also will be recorded and posted on for later viewing. Please join the conversation on Oct. 5 via Twitter @ConnectCreds and #ConnectCreds.

CLASP is focused on improving the nation’s credentialing system. Low-income people and people of color have the most to lose in our current fragmented and confusing credential system, and they have the most to gain from changes that will create a more equitable and connected system. Low-income families understand that postsecondary credentials are increasingly the gateway to employment at family-sustaining wages –and to succeed in the workforce, more young people and working adults than ever are seeking education beyond high school.

Low-income students face multiple financial, logistical and educational challenges in accessing and succeeding in postsecondary education. One challenge is the booming credential marketplace itself. Often, prospective students don’t know which credential to pursue because it is difficult to figure out which of many like-sounding credentials offer the best value for their money and their time spent to earn the credential – and which credential will be most useful for achieving the boost in earnings they seek. Students, especially those with little or no experience in postsecondary education, are also subject to predatory marketing that too often leads them to go into debt pursuing programs of study leading to credentials that aren’t valued by employers.

Nontraditional students, including low-income working adults, also encounter many dead-ends as they try to navigate the often circuitous pathways to marketable credentials they pursue as they balance work, family, and educational requirements. These pathways may start with informal learning on-the-job and/or short-term training obtained from any of a wide variety of providers, including employers, unions, community colleges, technical trade schools, community-based organizations and, increasingly, on-line training providers. Some of this education may carry “credit” within the education system, but much of it does not. Those seeking to advance in education often have to start all over again because they can’t get credit for what they’ve learned at work or through previous training. Students may encounter further dead ends as they try to move from applied non-transferrable programs to academic transferrable ones. Experience and credentials earned in one field of study or occupational area may not be easily transferrable to another. The National Credentialing Summit will explore solutions to these problems.

The Connecting Credentials website supporting the dialogue was launched in June and includes 89 co-sponsoring organizations. We encourage you to visit the resources section to explore the newly uploaded collection of video clips, recorded e-conversations, and cartoons. Hundreds of individuals representing diverse stakeholder perspectives have participated in 12 e-conversations over the past four months. Sessions focused on six themes: (1) building trust in the assessment and validation of competencies represented by different kinds of credentials; (2) improving the portability of credentials within education, within labor markets and across both; (3) informing learner decision-making about credentials; (4) assuring the labor market relevance of credentials; (5) creating pathways to quality credentials for low-income, low-skill learners; and (6) informing employer decision-making about credentials.

Following the Summit, documents made available to in-person attendees will be uploaded to the website. Resources posted will include a “Landscape Review of Innovations in the U.S. Credentialing Marketplace: A Working Document,” which is a first attempt to bring together information on many national and multi-state initiatives being implemented to improve the credentialing marketplace. In addition, more than 100 entries will be posted that are presented in chart format and organized by six key attributes proposed for a reimagined U.S. credentialing system. Those attributes are explained in “Connecting Credentials: Making the Case for Reforming the U.S. Credentialing System,” which articulates growing consensus that a redesigned postsecondary credentialing system must: (1) be easily understandable; (2) assure quality; (3) be up to date; (4) be connected; (5) enable comparisons; and (6) assure race and class equity.

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