Sherrill, Katko Driving Support for Innovation in Higher Education

March 15, 2021 by TWN Staff

WASHINGTON – Reps. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., and John Katko, R-N.Y., are urging their colleagues in Congress to authorize innovation grants to develop and scale evidence-based initiatives that improve outcomes in higher education.

Their bill, the Fund for Innovation and Success in Higher Education Act, is intended to open the doors of more colleges and universities by bolstering the skills of high-need students.

A companion bill was introduced earlier this month in the Senate by Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Todd Young, R-Ind.

“Higher education is a key pathway to the middle class for millions of Americans, and I know that our colleges and universities will play an important role in helping our residents and our economy recover from this pandemic,” Sherrill said.

“However, too many of our students face significant barriers to finishing their degree and gaining a good, well-paying job after graduation. The FINISH Act helps those students to succeed in school and the workforce by directing funds to initiatives that have a track record of success in helping students graduate with a degree or credential,” she said.

The FINISH Act takes important steps to support access to higher education and degree attainment among students, by:

  • Authorizing innovation grants: This bill amends the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) to allow institutions of higher education to use grant funding to develop and scale evidence-based initiatives that improve outcomes in education, such as degree attainment by enrolled students and access to higher education for high-need students.
  • Developing better evaluations of higher education initiatives: This legislation provides the Institute of Education Sciences the authority to evaluate the effectiveness of higher education initiatives that seek to improve student outcomes, with the goal of creating an evidence base of what works for students.
  • Authorizing pay-for-success grants that invest in proven initiatives: This bill allows the Department of Education to approve five Pay-for-Success initiatives that have demonstrated and measurable impacts on student outcomes each year.
  • Supporting the adoption of open-educational resources: This legislation encourages institutions of higher education to put their educational content online and make it widely available for students

It is already is supported by over 100 local, state, and national organizations, including America Forward, the Institute for College Access and Success, the Institute for Higher Education Policy, Knowledge Alliance, New America, and Results for America.

“We commend Representatives Sherrill and Katko for introducing bipartisan legislation that would leverage the power of data and evidence to improve outcomes in higher education,” said Michele Jolin, CEO and co-founder of Results for America. “The FINISH Act would accelerate innovation and support efforts to test and scale solutions that help more students access and succeed in college.”

Amy Laitinen, director for Higher Education at New America, said the FINISH Act would provide a critical investment in innovation for the U.S. higher education system when it’s never been more needed.

“With millions of students struggling to stay in school and finish their programs, especially now, this bill would provide critical support for colleges to implement ambitious, evidence-based strategies to help those students succeed in school and enter well-paying jobs,” Laitinen said.

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