Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Postsecondary Success

October 24, 2017

Episode 10: High Impact Higher Ed

This episode of To A Degree explores why some institutions have more success than others in helping students from low-income backgrounds move up the socioeconomic ladder. Guests include John Friedman of Brown University, Shirley Reed of South Texas College, William Covino of California State University – Los Angeles, Kevin Carey of New America, and Mark Schneider of the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

Segment 1

John Friedman discusses the Equality of Opportunity Project’s use of data to identify colleges and universities that have large numbers of students who come from low-income backgrounds and end up with high incomes. Friedman also explores why these high-impact colleges and universities are more successful than their peer institutions.

Additional Resources:

The Equality of Opportunity Project

Mobility Report Cards: The Role of Colleges in Intergenerational Mobility

Measuring the Impacts of Teachers I: Evaluating Bias in Teacher Value-Added Estimates

Segment 2

William Covino, president of California State University – Los Angeles, and Shirley Reed, president of South Texas College, discuss why their high-impact institutions are successful in helping large numbers of low-income students climb the socioeconomic ladder.

Additional Resources:

New York Times / The Upshot: “Some Colleges Have More Students From the Top 1 Percent Than the Bottom 60. Find Yours.” “Cal State LA ranked number one in the nation for upward mobility”

Segment 3

Kevin Carey of New America and Mark Schneider of the American Institutes for Research discuss current research on higher education and the mobility of low-income students, its implications for public policy and institutional practice, and additional research needed.

Additional Resources:

College Measures website and report

AIR: “Associate’s Degrees and Certificates Can Be a Path to the Middle-Class: A New Report on Colorado Graduates”

Guest Bios

John FriedmanJohn Friedman is an associate professor of economics, and international and public affairs at Brown University. His research evaluates the drivers of student success and inequality, translating data into policy-relevant insights.




Shirley ReedShirley Reed is the founding president of South Texas College, which serves almost 35,000 students. A 2013 recipient of the McGraw Prize, Reed has devoted her 40-year career to removing structural barriers in higher education and serving low-income students.




William ConvinoAs president of California State University – Los Angeles, William Covino emphasizes the importance of a curriculum that prepares students to transform the future and improve the community’s quality of life—in Los Angeles and beyond.




Kevin CareyKevin Carey directs the Education Policy program at New America. He is a regular contributor to The Upshot at The New York Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education. He also edits the annual Washington Monthly college guide. Carey is the author of The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere.



Mark SchneiderMark Schneider is vice president at the American Institutes for Research and president of College Measures, which he created. He works on increasing accountability in higher education. Schneider previously served as the U.S. Commissioner of Education Statistics.




Moderator Bio

Casey Green

Casey Green, the moderator and co-producer of To A Degree, is the founding director of The Campus Computing Project, the largest continuing study of eLearning and information technology in American higher education. Check out his blog, Digital Tweed, and follow him on Twitter at @DigitalTweed.



To A Degree is produced for the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation by G2 Education. Jinny Goldstein, the co-founder of G2Ed, is the executive producer of To A Degree.