JFF Acquires Nonprofit Developer of Outcomes-Based Quality Assurance Framework for Short-Term Education and Training Programs

  • Educational Quality Outcomes Standards Expands Jff’s National Role in the Evaluation of New Models of Postsecondary Education and Training, Including Non-degree Credentials

Jobs for the Future (JFF), a national nonprofit that drives transformation in the American workforce and education systems, announced its acquisition of Educational Quality Outcomes Standards (EQOS), a nonprofit organization that develops and maintains a framework of universal, independent measures of education and training program quality based on real-world student outcomes including employment and earnings. The addition of EQOS to JFF’s portfolio will reinforce and expand the organization’s longstanding focus on the testing, design, and evaluation of new models of postsecondary education and training.

“Even as the economy returns to pre-pandemic unemployment levels, there are millions of working adults in low-wage jobs who do not have access to the sort of workforce-relevant education or training to advance in their careers and navigate the complexities of a quickly changing labor market,” said Maria Flynn, president and CEO of JFF. “We need new ways to evaluate the rapidly expanding range of career-oriented credentials that exist. This work will bring more transparency to new models of education and skills training, helping learners and workers make better choices as they identify pathways to high-wage careers.”

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With declining student enrollment in traditional college and university programs, a growing number of jobseekers are exploring accelerated pathways to education and job training. According to the latest research from Credential Engine, there are nearly 1 million unique credentials available to workers and students today, including apprenticeships, non-degree credentials, and badges, as well as traditional degree programs.

“In a constantly changing job market, understanding skill achievement and return on investment through new models of education, training, and certification brings greater benefit to both workers and employers,” said Kristin Sharp, CEO of EQOS. “As our workforce evolves with innovation and new opportunities, it’s even more critical that we evaluate program success based on student outcomes and real-world results. JFF is the perfect partner to help EQOS scale this work as we move into the future.”

EQOS was launched as an independent nonprofit in April 2020. Its mission is to help students and working learners make sense of this fragmented education and training marketplace through a common set of metrics around the efficacy and quality of education and training programs. Through the application of metrics focused on real-world results that consumers seek, EQOS works with organizations to identify education and training providers committed to improving program outcomes—and increasing the public’s understanding of postsecondary options.

Originally an outgrowth of the U.S. Department of Education’s EQUIP program, the outcomes-based quality standards were developed by a task force comprised of postsecondary education leaders and policymakers, including author and higher education expert Michael Horn, former U.S. Under Secretary of Education and current American Council on Education President Ted Mitchell, former White House policy advisor John Bailey, and former North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue. In addition, the EQOS board of directors—which includes Horn, Mitchell, and higher education accreditation expert Elise Scanlon—announced the appointment of two new board members: Lisette Nieves, president of the Fund for the City of New York and a JFF board member, and Tameshia Bridges Mansfield, vice president for workforce innovation at JFF.

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“As higher education serves increasingly diverse demographics and working adults focusing on immediate career objectives, we must find new ways to measure and evaluate the impact of new models of education and training,” said Mitchell. “The creation of outcomes-based standards presents an opportunity to build a more user-friendly national framework for clearly measuring the impact of these programs—and articulating their value to learners, policymakers, and employers.”

EQOS will operate as a wholly-owned 501(c)(3) nonprofit subsidiary of JFF. JFF senior innovation officer Stephen Yadzinski will initially lead the integration of EQOS’s framework and pilots with existing JFF projects and strategies—and identify new opportunities to scale its mission and apply its quality assurance metrics to new projects. EQOS CEO Kristin Sharp will serve as a senior advisor to the newly formed initiative.

“We must move away from judging the quality of postsecondary education and training programs based on inputs to judging them on student outcomes,” said Rachel Carlson, CEO and Co-Founder of Guild Education. “The acquisition of EQOS by JFF will provide the right platform to make sure those outcomes are not only focused on graduation or completion rates but also on deeper metrics around how they advance the lives of learners and workers through better employment outcomes.”

Current clients and partners include state departments of higher education and/or workforce development in ColoradoIndiana, and New Jersey, as well as nonprofit organizations including the SkillUp Coalition, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, and Credential Engine. Funders include Walmart, Strada Education Network, and Lumina Foundation.

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