About PCN

Peer Consultation Networks

What is a Peer Consultation Network?

Through Peer Consultation Networks (PCN), SHEEOs come together to collaborate in areas of common interest on relevant state and national policy issues. As the name implies, PCNs are associations of “peers,” meaning SHEEOs themselves along with designated SHEEO agency staff.  They operate on the basis of “consultation,” which includes the sharing of information, experience, and support for actions taken within and across states. And they are voluntary “networks,” implying fluid and flexible associations able to adapt to states’ shifting needs and priorities.

What are the primary goals or purposes of PCNs?

PCNs are core strategies within the mission of the SHEEO association to assist SHEEO members and states in developing and sustaining excellent systems of higher education. Using words from the PCN project proposal, ultimately PCNs are intended to help states “improve student success and achievement by developing, enacting, and implementing key policy ideas and strategies through information sharing and peer collaboration.”

What will more immediate measures of “success” look like?

Successful PCNs will promote rich policy discussion and provide information or activities to help SHEEOs, at the end of the day, make a difference in their respective environments. Successful strategies will be shared across states, and significant milestones documented by SHEEO staff.

How will Peer Consultation Networks be organized?

PCNs will be initiated by the SHEEO Executive Committee and will adopt forms and structures that reflect the interests, needs, and preferences of the interested SHEEOs.  The organization of the PCN will be open, fluid, and flexible, evolving as needed to incorporate new priorities.

What are the organizing principles for the PCNs?

  • SHEEOs will control the agenda for each PCN
  • PCNs belong to SHEEO members and their designated senior-level staff
  • States will participate based on their own needs and interests
  • SHEEO staff will support and facilitate each of the PCNs

What policy issues and challenges will PCNs focus on?

As starting points, three areas of policy have been identified, and within each area several immediate challenges:

  • Productivity
    • Can states create or enhance policy levers (including funding mechanisms) focused on students completing quality programs, not just attempting them?
    • What are appropriate ways to reward or incentivize students to complete courses and finish their degrees or certificate programs?
    • How can states expand and strengthen lower-cost, nontraditional education options?
    • How can SHEEOs and the SHEEO association contribute to state and national efforts to develop, disseminate, and implement practices that enhance the productivity of higher education?
  • Student Learning and Accountability
    • What roles can and should higher education play in the adoption of common standards for college and workforce readiness?
    • How can SHEEOs and higher education institutions be involved in the emerging state-based consortia to develop college-ready student assessments?
    • What are appropriate SHEEO roles and state or system strategies to promote institutional accountability for student learning?
    • How can SHEEOs and the SHEEO association contribute to national and international efforts to improve quality and quality assurance in higher education?
  • State Data Systems
    • How can states develop more effective linkages between various student-level data systems, and for what purposes?
    • What standards or standardized data elements are needed for effective state longitudinal data systems?
    • What can SHEEOs and states do to make data more available and facilitate its use for improvement?

Each year the set of topics will be revisited and revised by the chairs and co-chairs of each PCN based on discussion at the SHEEO Annual Meeting and input from interested SHEEOs. While the specific areas and challenges are likely to evolve and change, the three policy areas of Productivity, Student Learning and Accountability, and State Data Systems are intended to provide the basic organizing framework for several years.

What roles will SHEEO staff play to support PCNs?

Paul Lingenfelter will provide overall organizational leadership for the PCN strategy, be the ultimate point of contact for PCN chairs and co-chairs, the SHEEO Executive Committee, and the SHEEO membership. A senior member of SHEEO staff will facilitate the work of each PCN, including tasks such as coordination, logistical support, communications, and resource development (Student Learning & Accountability PCN – Charlie Lenth; State Data Systems PCN – Hans P. L’Orange; and Productivity PCN – Jeff Stanley). Julie Carnahan will serve as the PCN Coordinator. Julie will provide limited support to each PCN while coordinating activities and linking resources across all three. Other SHEEO staff will be involved and contribute to PCN activities within their areas of experience and expertise.