Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2017


A master plan in higher education is developed to address the academic and workforce needs of a particular state. The master plan helps serve as the roadmap for implementation of proposed strategies to reach state goals in education and degree attainment. In Tennessee, Drive to 55 is a state-wide effort to increase the number of Tennesseans with a higher education credential to 55% by the year 2025. In an attempt to gain a deeper understanding of the key elements within state master plans, an independent review of ten state plans was conducted. The states involved in the analysis were Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, New York, Colorado, Arkansas, Nevada, Louisiana, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The informal review revealed four key elements of state master plans in higher education: accessibility, affordability, accountability, and success. A consensus to reach underserved, underrepresented, or nontraditional students could be found among all ten states. Increasing accessibility to higher education can help abridge achievement gaps and eliminate disparities. Through responsible planning, management of resources, and assistance of those with demonstrated financial need, a quality higher education degree or credential that is affordable could be obtained. Accountability is measured in various ways by the ten states; however, clear expectations for performance are needed to ensure student success and positive institutional outcomes are experienced. A key element of success was noted to be college readiness and characteristics of students including determination and grit. Nine out of the ten states reviewed had some form of performance-based funding measures in place; providing incentives for institutions to help students successfully complete degree programs

Copyright Statement

© 2017 JW Press. This document was published with permission by the publisher. It was originally published in Journal of Academic Administration in Higher Education.