Over the past year, six communities across the country have been participating in StriveTogether’s Postsecondary Enrollment (PSE) Impact and Improvement Network. The goal is to increase FAFSA completion in their communities. FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). An increase in FAFSA completion means more students have access to financial aid for, and access to, college.
Using a combination of continuous improvement techniques, Results Based Leadership tools and an equity focus, we’ve achieved great success!
- 5 out of 6 partnerships: Increased FAFSA completion rates at the school level
- 4 out of 6 partnerships: Increased FAFSA completion rates at the district level
- 3 out of 6 partnerships: Increased FAFSA completion rates by 10% or more
“Our participation [in the PSE Impact and Improvement Network] helped to lay the foundation for setting multi-year goals focused on FAFSA and to build buy-in for the importance of FAFSA regionally.” – Impact Tulsa
The results of the PSE Impact and Improvement are exciting. But, what I find the most interesting about the results is the way that they were achieved. Each partnership used basic continuous improvement techniques like Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) test cycles, run charts and frequent data monitoring and reporting to test their strategies and improve them over time. Here’s why the PSE Impact and Improvement Network members found these tools so useful:
“I believe the biggest benefit of participation is sharing of best practices and tools. When you see the impact of the interventions, it really takes guessing out of the picture and encourages more intentionality.” – PSE Impact & Improvement Network member
“The PDSA helped tremendously to ensure each step was aligned to the overall goal. It helped us operate much more systematically and helped us improve our process.” – Seeding Success
“Mapping interventions to data (even after the fact) helped raise awareness about effective practices.”Commit! Partnership
“Using run charts helped us identify the most promising interventions because we could literally see what worked the best.” – P16 Plus
“Looking at data regularly, and talking about it is important. Regularly updating superintendents, the school teams, our collaborative action group (PACT), and various stakeholders across the community with progress kept the momentum going and created a “middle” space for best practices to rise up and spread.” – All Hands Raised
“Sharing before and after [FAFSA] completion numbers with each event team help them immediately see the need for follow-up events and strategize about students they were missing.” – Road Map Project
Heidi Black is Senior Manager, Innovation for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. Black is responsible for supporting partnerships as they develop collaborative action networks and practice continuous improvement.