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NASH Newsletter – January 2020

January 15, 2020

NASH National Association of System Heads logo


By Jillian Kinzie and Alexander C. McCormick, Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research and NSSE

High-impact practices (HIPs) now represent a core feature of a high-quality undergraduate education. Thus, it is not surprising that so many NASH institutions have invested in making HIPs more widespread. Yet, while the literature identifies a set of essential elements common across HIPs – high expectations for performance, significant investment of students’ time and effort, substantive interaction with faculty and peers, experiences with diversity and in unfamiliar situations, frequent feedback, opportunities for reflection and integration of learning, real-world application, and public demonstrations of competence – there has been scant empirical examination of their implementation. The Assessing Quality and Equity in High-Impact Practices project (AKA the “HIP Quality Project”), supported by Lumina Foundation, is conducting a deeper examination of HIPs by exploring the extent to which students participating in HIPs are exposed to the elements of HIP quality set forth in the literature. We are assessing the extent to which HIPs manifest these elements, and the critical equity question of who has access to high-quality HIPs. We hope the project will help institutions assess and enhance the quality of their HIP offerings.

In spring 2019, we implemented two different surveys about HIP experiences (a special question set appended to the National Survey of Student Engagement and a standalone survey administered via Qualtrics) at 58 institutions – including about 20 NASH Taking Student Success to Scale (TS3) schools – with enrollments ranging from 900 to 34,000 students.  The HIP Quality set was delivered to students who indicated that current or recent participation in one of seven HIPs (internship or field placement, learning community, study abroad, research with faculty, service-learning, culminating senior experience, and first-year seminar). The questions asked students about their experience with the elements thought to be key to HIP effectiveness, and also to report on their satisfaction with the experience.  View the HIP Quality set here

Approximately 21,000 students reported on their HIP experiences. Nearly half of respondents were students of color, two thirds (65%) were women, and most (83%) were heterosexual. The highest proportions of students (nearly two thirds each), reported on internships, co-ops, field experiences, or service-learning, 12% on culminating experiences, and about 8% for the remaining HIPs.

One immediate and gratifying finding is that students were highly satisfied with their HIP experience. Students rated the quality of their HIP experience on a 7-point scale, from excellent to poor. Among seniors, satisfaction was greatest for research with faculty and study abroad, and an examination of satisfaction levels by racial-ethnic identity also reveals relatively high levels of satisfaction across groups.  See Figures 1 and 2 on the Preliminary Findings flyer here (near the bottom of the page):

To arrive at our subjective determination of “high quality” we looked to the HIP literature for guidance on which elements are typically emphasized and then established minimum criteria based on students’ responses. For example, our threshold for high quality with respect to demands on students’ time and effort was that the experience demanded “more time” or “much more time” than students’ typical learning experiences. As you might imagine, evidence of high-quality features varied considerably. In general, students experience HIP qualities in patterns consistent with what the literature emphasizes. For example, our criteria for high expectations for performance were met for large proportions of students (about 90%) in undergraduate research, internships, and culminating experiences.  While two in three study abroad participants met our high-quality threshold for engagement across difference achieved, but far fewer (6-17%) did so for the other HIPs. We also found considerable variability in the proportion of students who experienced high quality on the elements that are emphasized in the literature for specific HIPs.  Notably, the features that most consistently met our criteria for high quality by the largest share of students were high expectations for performance (85-91%) and public demonstration of competence (88-90%).

We continue to examine the experience of racially minoritized students but results are generally encouraging, with a combination of show positive results (i.e., a larger proportion experiencing high quality relative to white students), many cases of little difference, and some negative results deserving of further investigation (study abroad and internships).

Results from the HIP Quality Project can help us get beyond the checklist approach to merely offering HIPs to helping institutions and HIP proponents dive deeper into assuring high-quality experiences for all students. Our findings also offer some assurance of quality in HIPs, but that we need to aim higher on some features and address shortcomings and variability in HIP quality. The need to ensure that all students are experiencing high-quality HIPs remains imperative, and this requires serious attention to the specifics of HIP implementation!


The Taking Student Success to Scale (TS3) initiative is ringing in 2020 with a new website and an inclusive communications strategy that features contributions from our amazing community.  Visit our website at to see our new look!

Here’s what you can anticipate in the new year:

  • A redesigned website that makes it easy to find resources about our three original interventions—high impact practices, math pathways, and predictive analytics—as well as rich information about equity-mindedness and transfer;
  • Quick links to TS3’s popular webinar series;
  • A blog that features contributions from system and campus leaders, including campus spotlights that highlight effective work and support networked learning;
  • Frequent tweets and LinkedIn posts to ensure TS3 is part of the national conversation about student completion and success.

Our collective impact approach is based on an engaged learning community that committed to scaling effective practices. We invite you to join in the conversation! Here’s how:

  • Tag @NASHTS3 when you tweet or post about your local student success event, initiative, or research. We love to follow you and (digitally) applaud and amplify your work!
  • Follow @NASHTS3 on Twitter and NASH TS3 (?) on LinkedIn. We’ll make sure your feed is filled with interesting and timely information about equity-minded student success practices. Encourage your colleagues to follow us, too.
  • Sign up to create a special TS3 tweet or LinkedIn post. We’re looking for up to one volunteer a week. Just 10 minutes of your time can have an outsized impact. (Contact:
  • We know one of your New Year’s resolutions is to write more, so do it! We’re looking for monthly blog posts of about 300-500 words. Watch your words and work inspire people around the country with only an hour’s investment. (Contact:

We are excited to greet 2020 with new energy and inspiration and look forward to your participation as we spread the word about your impressive work.


In early 2020 there will be several opportunities to learn about the NASH TS3: HIPs teams’ work. We hope you will join us!

On February 18-20, the third HIPs in the States Conference will be held at Texas A&M University.  Over 20 sessions will be presented by teams from NASH TS3: HIPs campuses and systems!

On February 20 at 8:00am, Claire Jacobson from NASH will present on the new NASH HIPs online professional development modules in a session titled, “High Impact Practices: An Educator’s Guide–An introduction to NASH’s free online HIPs professional development modules.”

Thursday’s keynote will be given by LaVar Charleston, associate dean for diversity and inclusion, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  LaVar was formerly the assistant vice chancellor of student diversity, engagement, and success UW–Whitewater, and a member of UW-Whitewater’s HIPs leadership team.  We look forward to his lunchtime plenary which will highlight the work of HIPs with first generation college students.

A few additional presentations of interest include:

  • A team from Chattanooga State will present, “Designing HIPS for CITS: Designing High Impact Practices for Collaboration & Inclusion Through Sport”
  • Two joint University of Wisconsin System and campus teams will present: “Intra-System Synergies: Equity-Minded HIPs for First-Generation Student Success,” as well as their work using ePortofilios with adult learners in the session, “I’m not a blank slate! Empowering adult learners using prior learning portfolios as a High Impact Practice.”
  • A team from NSSE will present on the initial findings from the HIPs quality modules in a session titled, “What Makes High-Quality HIPs? Lessons for Quality and Equity”


The Driving OER Sustainability for Student Success (DOERS3) Collaborative was conceived in 2017 by the University System of Maryland (USM), City University of New York (CUNY), and State University of New York (SUNY).  Launched in fall 2018, DOERS3 is a collaborative open to public higher education systems and statewide/provincewide organizations that are supporting large-scale, statewide/provincewide Open Educational Resources (OER) initiatives and committed to advancing innovation in OER.  As of December, 2019, DOERS3 had 24 participating members in the US and Canada.

DOERS3 positions member organizations to realize the promise of high-quality, accessible, and sustainable OER implementations to achieve equity and student success at scale. Leveraging the collective strength of the Collaborative, DOERS3 members build capacity to take established OER initiatives to scale and shape national and state innovation in the areas of OER research, data, policy, accessibility, equity and quality.

DOERS3 is organized around three work groups:

  • Research: What research/data infrastructure do we need to support our statewide initiatives?
  • Equity: What do we need to do to support equity in our statewide initiatives and make explicit the role of OER in closing equity gaps and advancing student success?
  • Capacity Building: What capacity do we need to build OER with both internal and external stakeholders?

At a convening hosted by the University of Texas-Arlington in November, the work groups picked projects for the next 12 months.  The project list includes:

  • Building a guidebook that provides a blueprint for how OER can help close equity gaps
  • Improving the bookstore workflow to better facilitate OER use
  • Creating data standards for OER research


In September of 2019, Lumina Foundation convened a group of higher education leaders, including nine NASH members, to consider a new model for assuring and improving quality in postsecondary education, developed by its Quality Credentials Task Force.  This model is explicitly designed to support redesign and reform efforts that prioritize, at once, advancing quality and equity in all postsecondary institutions and programs.  While the initial focus of the work was on the profound changes in the economy and society leading to new approaches to defining and assessing credentials earned after high school, there is much here that is relevant to traditional college programs and degrees.

The model strongly emphasizes institutional policies and priorities that correlate with significantly higher levels of student persistence and credential attainment. These practices include many that have been developed by faculty members to provide active, culturally competent, and supportive teaching and learning. Increasingly, effective teaching and curricular redesign feature such high-impact practices as community-based research, reflective writing, and problem-based learning.

The conceptual framework begins with societal and individual outcomes and proposes intentional program design, student-centered policies and practices, and a dynamic quality assurance system.  Specific key indicators are identified in each of these areas.  A call for collective action and collaboration across higher education sectors will be necessary to advance this work.

Click here to learn more


Higher education institutions and systems always plan strategically to improve student success and often evaluate their progress by comparing themselves against their peers.  To help institutions better plan strategically, APLU and AASCU are offering a tool that allows institutions to build their own peer groups and create custom reports on 25 key metrics that analyzes their performance against that of their peers. This tool, VSA Analytics, is also be used by system for building systemwide reports and making comparison across systems.

VSA Analytics is a relatively new tool designed to support institutional planning. It used to be the old Voluntary System of Accountability, but instead of collecting data from institutions for public dissemination, VSA Analytics now gathers the data that institutions have already reported nationally, aggregates it, cleans it, and organizes it for institutional benchmarking.

The underlying dataset has data on over 4,400 institutions. There are almost 400 variables in the dataset. The sources of data include: IPEDS, NSF-HERD, College Scorecard, and the Student Achievement Measure.  The custom interface gives users access to 25 key performance metrics that include admissions, enrollments, R&D expenditures, degrees awarded, completions rates from SAM, Outcome Measures, and the traditional IPEDS 6-year graduation rate.  It also includes financial aid, cost, median debt, and median salary information.

The tool is very easy to use. It comes with a comparison group builder where users can easily create as many comparison groups as they would like, using filters or by typing the institution name.  Every user can select a home institution and a set of comparison groups as the default for all reports.

When viewing a report, filters customize the report, icons switch between a line graph and a bar chart, and menus to the left allow users to switch comparison groups quickly.  Every report has a data table below the graph.  All reports can be exported or printed to PDF.

This tool is of great value to institutions. The cost is $2,000 per institution.  However, APLU and AASCU members receive a 50% discount.  VSA Analytics now offers free access to system offices that coordinate a membership for all their institutions. In addition, all institutions in the system will receive the 50% discount even if they are not an APLU or AASCU member.

We encourage you to check out the tool and to share this information with your respective institutions.  To sign up go to: www.VsaAnalytics.Org. To schedule a demo or to get more information, email ExecutiveDirector@VsaAnalytics.Org.

NASH will be hosting a webinar on VSA Analytics on March 23 at 3:00pm EDT.


Education Strategy Group (ESG) and the Level Up coalition released a series of recommendations for states and local communities as they work to increase students’ completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Increasing FAFSA completion rates is a fundamental step in state efforts to meet their postsecondary attainment goals. Students who complete the FAFSA are more likely to enroll in higher education, persist in their college coursework, and obtain a degree. Despite this, over a third of high school seniors fail to complete the FAFSA each year, leaving an estimated $3.4 billion in financial aid on the table. And the students who stand to benefit most, including low-income and first-generation students, are the least likely to complete the form.

The FAFSA is notorious for its complexity, which often serves as a barrier to completion. Congress recently took steps to simplify the FAFSA (FUTURE Act), reducing the number of questions and eliminating the burdensome verification process. This action is long overdue and a welcome step forward. But the important work of ensuring students understand the process and actually take the steps to apply remains a state and local responsibility.

Informed by an analysis of state and local policies and practices from across the country, Fast Track FAFSA Completion provides a roadmap for states and local communities to dramatically increase the likelihood that students complete the FAFSA.

Read the new report from Education Strategy Group and the Level Up Coalition to learn more.

Our 5th Annual Taking Student Success to Scale (TS3) Network Convening will take place on April 21-22, 2020 in Minneapolis, MN.  The TS3 Network Convening brings together system and campus leaders from across the country committed to adopting evidence based practices in order to move the dial on our nation’s completion and attainment goals.  To learn more about Taking Student Success to Scale, including viewing past webinars on our three interventions, please visit our website:


Since it was founded by board chairs of state universities in 1921, AGB has prioritized assistance to board leaders and chief executives in ensuring their essential partnership is healthy and up to the challenges of the day. Public higher education today must be at once responsive, anticipatory, reliable, and durable in navigating dynamic environments. Please join us this spring for a program dedicated to the imperative of “leadership in changing environments.”

Facilitated group sessions provide best practices in governance and elicit effective strategies from fellow participants, while team meetings between chief executives and board leaders and one-on-one consultations allow participants to focus on shared work back home.

Participant teams enjoy a dedicated, well-structured one-and-a-half day program to:

  • develop shared understandings of mutual and respective responsibilities
  • gain clarity together on what effectiveness looks like
  • develop a governance action plan to strengthen the board and address high-level challenges

Expert-led discussions allow participants to learn from others, developing a network of peers they can draw upon after the Institute concludes. Key to the experience is the team time for board leaders and chief executives to work together, collaborating on ideas for moving their boards and universities forward.


Here are several reports that have crossed my desk recently that I would like to bring to your attention.

  • Trends in Enrollment and Degree Equity at Public Four-Year Colleges: 2001-2016, The Education Trust, 2019.

According to their recent research, The Education Trust finds that few states are doing enough to ensure that their public two- and four-year colleges enroll and graduate Black and Latino undergraduates at percentages that reflect the demographics of state residents. Further, their findings reveal that both groups are vastly underrepresented among students and degree earners at public four-year institutions in nearly every state we analyzed. Specific findings include:

  • Demographic benchmarks have risen as the number of Black and Latino residents has grown.
  • Black student representation at public four-year institutions has declined since 2001.
  • Representation of Latinos at public four-year institutions has steadily increased in recent years.

Guiding questions are offered to help advocates and policymakers determine what’s happening in their states and to push for change.

Click here to read the full report

  • The New Foundational Skills of the Digital Economy, Burning Glass and the Business-Higher Education Forum, 2019.

The demands of the digital economy are reshaping what workers need to know to thrive, creating a set of New Foundational Skills that are becoming crucial for employees and jobseekers.

  • Human Skillsapply social, creative and critical intelligence to problems through critical thinking, creativity, communication, analytical skills, collaboration, and relationship building.
  • Digital Building Block Skillsare increasingly useful outside traditional digitally intense job families and include analyzing data, managing data, software development, computer programming, and digital security and privacy.
  • Business Enabler Skillsallow the other skills to be put to work in practical situations, through project management, business process, communicating data, and digital design.

Despite the fact that having skills from all three groups can provide a significant advantage, Burning Glass’ examination of resumes showed that only one-fifth of workers claim skills in all three categories.

Click here to read the full report

  • Funding for Equity: Designing State Dual Enrollment Funding Models to Close Equity Gaps, NACEP 2019.

This paper presents three approaches that eliminate student-borne tuition costs while supporting broad program access, as well as the states that have adopted those models and key considerations for policymakers.  It is intended to help states identify a dual enrollment funding model that maintains a focus on equity while taking leaders’ programmatic aspirations and a state’s funding predispositions into account. These multifaceted programs exist in both the K-12 and higher education policy and programmatic spaces.

Click here to read the full report

  • The Mathematics of Opportunity: Rethinking the Role of Math in Educational Equity, Just Equations and The Opportunity Institute, 2018.

This paper describes how traditional approaches to mathematics education can contribute to inequity and highlights emerging approaches to change that equation. The goal is to ensure that math instruction is more equity-oriented and that math requirements are more valid and aligned across educational systems.  Quantitative reasoning skills are an important underpinning for achievement in school, at work, and in life. But, perhaps because it plays such a primary role in fostering such skills, mathematics can be wielded in ways that arbitrarily close doors to educational advancement. Designing a new mathematics of opportunity entails re-thinking the way content requirements, instructional approaches, and assessment practices combine to form policies that can determine students’ future educational opportunities.

Click here to read the full report


New System Head

Dr. Jay Perman, Chancellor, University System of Maryland


Type Topic Date Location Meeting
CAO NASH CAO Network Meeting Feb 6 New Orleans AASCU
HIPs HIPs in the States Feb 18-21 College Station, TX
CAO CAO/CBO Joint Meeting March 10-11 Washington, DC
System Heads NASH Board and System Heads Meeting April 5 Washington, DC AGB
Leadership Academy NASH System Leadership Academy – convening II April 20-21 Minneapolis
TS3 NASH TS3 Convening April 21-22 Minneapolis
CAO NASH CAO Network Meeting August 4* Indianapolis SHEEO
System Heads NASH Board & System Heads Annual Meeting Nov 8* Orlando APLU

* Date is not confirmed and is subject to change.


 Please join NASH and the TS3 Network for our upcoming webinars.

January 29 at 3:00 EST: Actionable Analytics

Presenters: Rebecca Karoff, The University of Texas System, David Troutman, The University of Texas System, and Mitchell Colver, Utah State University

Description:  The January 29, 2020, TS3 webinar will focus on Actionable Analytics, exploring the way systems and institutions are using data analytics to promote student success and equity. Join Rebecca Karoff from University of Texas System as she facilitates a conversation with Mitchell Colver from Utah State University and David Troutman from University of Texas System on the evolution and progression of data analytics. From institutional and system perspectives, Dr. Colver and Dr. Troutman will describe the ways in which they are making data actionable, expanding data literacy among institutional stakeholders, and deploying analytics to better understand student behaviors, design interventions, and allocate resources. Analytics can be a pivot point in collective impact models, bringing leadership, administrators, faculty, and advisors together to not only solve issues around retention and completion, but also to measure and advance student success more holistically and equitably.

February 13 at 3:00 EST: HIPs Online Modules

Presenter: Claire Jacobson, NASH

Description:  A culminating outcome of the TS3 High Impact Practices project is a series of eLearning modules documenting lessons learned in the areas of implementation, assessment and scaling of high-quality equitable HIPs.  Project Director Claire Jacobson will share this experiential approach to presenting the work, as well as a curated set of resources on HIPs in this central hub.

March 23 at 3:00pm EDT: VSA Analytics

Presenters: Bryan Cook and Denise Nadasen, APLU

Description:  During this webinar, Bryan Cook and Denise Nadasen of APLU will introduce you to their new tool, VSA Analytics.  VSA Analytics supports institutional benchmarking and accountability. The new VSA Analytics is a robust, interactive, and user-friendly platform for colleges and universities to compare and analyze key performance metrics across institutions. VSA Analytics allows users to build custom analytical and graphical reports with a custom platform in just minutes and eliminates the need to spend days searching, downloading, integrating and analyzing data. Subscribers can add as many campus users as they would like and download the entire custom dataset.

Designed by institutions for institutions, VSA Analytics offers more than 25 benchmarking reports based on a custom national dataset containing almost 400 variables from roughly 4,400 institutions. Data include: enrollment, cost of attendance, graduation rate, R&D expenditures, financial aid, admissions, student-faculty ratio, Student Achievement Measure metrics and much, much more.  APLU provides access to VSA Analytics for campuses with a nominal annual fee.