When innovative higher education policy doesn’t work—and what to do

New series of reports reveal state efforts to boost college access and attainment found lacking

research-state-collegeSigh. Innovation through experimentation, as all scientists know, happens through failure(s), and according to a new series of papers from The American Academy of Political and Social Science, almost all of the 50 states are experiencing ineffectiveness through policy experimentation concerning higher education.

The 11 research papers, published in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, examine state policy initiatives in higher education that have been developed since the Great Recession to today.

Taken as a whole, says the Academy, the new research does not paint a pretty picture of the current state of higher-ed in the U.S.

In summary of the 11 papers, researchers found that despite “considerable experimentation aimed at improving access to college and attainment of degrees, the 50 states often have been ineffective in broadening college opportunities and graduation rates for their residents. In many cases, states pursue policies that just don’t work.”

And, according to their analyses, researchers say the main cause of ineffectiveness in policy is due to political and leadership turn-over, causing instability in implementation.

(Next page: The stunning findings of the reports)