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Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP)

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Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) was a pilot program to accelerate and evaluate innovation through partnerships between colleges and universities and non-traditional providers of education in order to equip more Americans with the skills, knowledge, and training they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

About the Program

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) invited eight selected partnerships between institutions of higher education and non-traditional providers to participate in the EQUIP experiment.

These partnerships allowed students—particularly low-income students—to access federal student aid for the first time to enroll in programs offered by non-traditional training providers, in partnership with colleges and universities, including coding bootcamps, online courses, and employer organizations. The goals of the experiment were to: (1) test new ways of allowing Americans from all backgrounds to access innovative learning and training opportunities that lead to good jobs, but that fall outside the current financial aid system; and (2) strengthen approaches for outcomes-based quality assurance processes that focus on student learning and other outcomes. The experiment aimed to promote and measure college access, affordability, and student outcomes.

EQUIP falls under the Experimental Sites Initiatives, which tests the effectiveness of statutory and regulatory flexibility for postsecondary institutions that disburse federal financial aid. Through the EQUIP program, the Department sought to learn about these new models and their costs and educational and employment outcomes for students, as well as explore new methods to measure quality. Testing and learning from this program may help inform future policy reforms.

Selected Sites

Institution: Colorado State University Global Campus (Greenwood Village, CO)

Non-traditional provider: Guild Education

Quality assurance entity: Tyton Partners


With Guild Education, the Colorado State University-Global Campus plans to offer a one-year certificate program in Management and Leadership Fundamentals, aimed at helping students advance from low-wage roles into supervisory roles. The credits earned in the certificate can also be applied towards a bachelor’s degree from CSU-Global Campus. Half of the program will be comprised of credits from the Guild leadership modules, and the remaining half will be offered through regular CSU-Global coursework. Tyton Partners will form a non-profit organization to serve as the quality assurance entity, in partnership with Burning Glass Technologies, and Professional Examination Service, with support from RSM. Its quality assurance processes will include cognitive and non-cognitive assessments, compliance reviews of the program, and labor-market analytics.

Read their full application here.

Institution: Marylhurst University (Marylhurst, OR)

Non-traditional provider: Epicodus

Quality assurance entity: Climb


In partnership with Epicodus, a local software coding school, Marylhurst University will offer a 27-week certificate program in Web and Mobile Development, with the goal of providing access to careers in computer software coding to low-income and historically underserved students. The program is designed to support students in a variety of ways, including using a flipped classroom approach so that in-class time will be used for exercises, projects, and discussions. It will also include a cohort social learning model that pairs students together. In completing the program, students will not only earn a certificate, but also will have access to industry employers through internship opportunities. Climb, Marylhurst’s quality assurance entity, will measure the outcomes for students and progress towards program goals, including data on student satisfaction surveys, persistence, retention, completion, and employment information such as salary data.

Read their full application here.

Institution: SUNY Empire State College (Saratoga Springs, NY)

Non-traditional provider: The Flatiron School

Quality assurance entity: American National Standards Institute (ANSI)


The proposed SUNY Empire State program is partnering with the Flatiron School, a coding school with experience serving both low- and high-income students. The program will allow students to earn a certificate in Web Development. Courses will be offered through multiple modalities, including both online and in-person, depending on the program. Graduates will complete the program with a professional work portfolio of web products and a technical blog and profile. The quality assurance entity, American National Standards Institute, will evaluate student work, assessments, and key student outcomes such as credit transfer, retention and completion rates, using and building on existing models and processes for quality assurance.

Read their full application here.

Institution: University of Texas—Austin (Austin, TX)

Non-traditional provider: MakerSquare

Quality assurance entity: Entangled Solutions and Moody, Famiglietti & Andronico, LLP


The University of Texas at Austin proposes to partner with MakerSquare—a coding and software bootcamp—to offer a 13-week certificate program in Web Development. Students will learn a range of programming skills, including JavaScript and functional web computer programming, to prepare them for jobs as mid-level software engineers. The program will be continuously evaluated by two quality assurance entities: Entangled Solutions and Moody, Famiglietti & Andronico, LLP (MFA). Entangled Solutions will have responsibility for setting and monitoring outcomes-based standards for the program including claims for learning, assessments, student work, placement rates, earnings growth, and student satisfaction, while MFA will provide independent auditing to verify the program’s reported data, particularly for employment outcomes.

Read their full application here.

Institution: Dallas Community College System (Dallas, TX)

Non-traditional provider: StraighterLine

Quality assurance entity: CHEA Quality Platform


In partnership with StraighterLine, the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) will offer two programs: an associate degree in Science (Business Concentration) and an associate degree in Arts (Criminal Justice Concentration). The programs aim to enable individuals in Dallas County that have attended some college, but who have not yet obtained a credential, to complete their degrees with credentials that can help them land jobs in the community. Students will be able to earn up to three-quarters of their degrees through StraighterLine courses. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s (CHEA) Quality Platform will serve as the Quality Assurance Entity for this program, measuring critical student outcomes like graduation rates, repayment ability, and the students’ cost per credit.

Read their full application here.

Institution: Northeastern University (Boston, MA)

Non-traditional provider: General Electric

Quality assurance entity: American Council on Education (ACE)


In partnership with General Electric (GE), Northeastern University will provide an accelerated bachelor of science in Advanced Manufacturing. As the industry partner, GE will provide experiential training to students, and Northeastern will co-develop the curricula alongside GE and provide academic support services. The American Council on Education (ACE) will serve as the quality assurance entity, leading an academic quality evaluation process and evaluating the learning that takes place and the effectiveness of the program by surveying stakeholders like faculty evaluators, psychometricians, and subject matter experts in the field.

Read their full application here.

Institution: Thomas Edison State University (Trenton, NJ)

Non-traditional provider:

Quality assurance entity: Quality Matters


Thomas Edison State University plans to partner with to offer a bachelor of science in Business Administration and a bachelor of arts in Liberal Studies through online, self-paced video courses. In these programs, at least half of their coursework will be completed by taking courses. As a correspondence program, students will complete the courses they need at their own pace. Quality Matters (QM), which has served for over a decade as a quality assurance provider, will be the program’s quality assurance entity. It will apply and adapt its Online Learner Success quality assurance framework to address the program’s specific questions and assess the extent to which the program improves student outcomes such as credits earned, completion of the degree, cost compared to national benchmarks, and student satisfaction.

Read their full application here.

Institution: Wilmington University (New Castle, DE)

Non-traditional provider: Zip Code Wilmington

Quality assurance entity: HackerRank


Wilmington will partner with Zip Code Wilmington, a nonprofit software development organization, to offer a 12-week boot camp program in Software Development that will provide students with skills to pursue an entry-level position using Java programming language. Zip Code Wilmington places graduates of the boot camp in either long-term apprenticeships or direct-hire employment, and plans to help find employment for its students with one of its many corporate partners. Wilmington and Zip Code Wilmington have engaged Hacker Rank to serve as the program’s quality assurance entity and to assess student learning, track progress, benchmark performance, assess skills, and measure employment outcomes.

Read their full application here.