WASHINGTON–U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Todd Young (R-IN), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) today introduced the Innovation Zone Act (IZ Act), legislation to ensure that the Department of Education has clear guidelines on how and when to report data on experimental site initiatives. This improves transparency, holds the experimental sites accountable to the public, and allows policymakers to make better informed decisions on the viability of potential policies being tested at the experiment sites.
The IZ Act would require the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education to provide colleges with a clear direction for reporting data and provide the higher education community an opportunity to submit suggestions for future experiments, improving the efficacy of innovational experiments.
“To innovate we need the data to know what works, and what doesn’t,” said Dr. Cassidy. “The Innovation Zone Act builds on the Department of Education’s initiative to provide what works.”
“These experiments have the ability to promote innovation and access within our higher education system, but first we must have a way to measure what works and what does not,” said Senator Young. “Our bill will improve data collection and accountability, and ultimately better serve our students.”
“We must keep working to ensure that students have the support and tools they need to prepare for their futures, and this bill is integral to those efforts,” said Senator Hassan. “The bipartisan Innovation Zones Act provides higher education institutions more flexibility to pursue innovative pilot programs, while requiring a focus on successful student outcomes to ensure that the needs of all students are met, including underrepresented students who face additional barriers to success.”
“Innovation zones help colleges and universities better understand the evolving needs of their students,” said Senator Kaine. “This legislation would provide higher education institutions the opportunity to effectively measure data so they can improve student success at a time when many students face barriers to completing school.”
The IZ Act would also rename experimental sites as “innovation zones” to better reflect the program’s mission of encouraging higher education institutions to experiment with strategies to increase student success.
Supporters of the IZ Act include:
Ivy Tech Community College
The Education Trust
Results for America
Salt Lake Community College
Jobs for the Future
Middle College National Consortium
National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships
National Skills Coalition
Southern New Hampshire University
Institute for Higher Education Policy.
“We support all efforts that will allow flexibility to increase student success. We also support being held accountable for the results of any such programs,” Sue Ellspermann, Ivy Tech Community College President, said. “The improvements brought from this legislation will give the necessary insight into understanding how to improve student success in higher education and result in Congress’ ability to enact efficient, evidence-based policy changes.”