WDQC Hosts Quality Assurance Meeting

Jenna Leventoff
November 15, 2016

On November 10th, more than 20 state, college, and workforce leaders from around the nation gathered in Nashville, Tennessee to consider policies to assure the quality of short-term programs leading to occupational credentials.

The one-day event kicked off with a panel discussion about two states meeting the validation challenge – Virginia and Tennessee. Lori Dwyer, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Workforce Policy at the Virginia Community College System, discussed her office’s implementation of the system’s industry certifications list, which is used to evaluate short-term programs that prepare students for certifications and licensures awarded by industry. Kenyatta Lovett, Executive Director of Complete Tennessee, discussed Tennessee’s Drive to 55 effort to ensure that 55 percent of Tennesseans have a degree or certificate by 2025, as well as the ways that Tennessee has aligned education with employer needs.

After the panel discussion, participants engaged in a robust discussion about potential state and federal policy recommendations designed to ensure the quality of short-term programs leading to credentials. Participants discussed questions including:

  • What are the proper components of a quality short-term program leading to credentials?
  • Are any existing quality assurance mechanisms sufficient to assure the quality of short-term programs? 
  • What are the proper outcome metrics and thresholds to measure a quality program?
  • Should these programs be validated by employers? If so, what are reliable methods of employer validation?
  • Should federal Pell grants be expanded to include short-term programs that are validated through a quality assurance mechanism? 

WDQC plans to use the insights gleaned from this convening to draft a set of state and federal policy recommendations. We look forward to sharing them in the new year.