Here are some new resources and news for the field of higher education. 

The Governor That’s Making Free College Happen — Our latest Ed Note blog post comes from Sarah Pingel, senior policy analyst at Education Commission of the States, and discusses free college policies in Tennessee and how the state is working to expand free college access to more potential students.

Dissecting Data on Degree Earners — The number of students earning their first undergraduate degree—both associate and bachelor’s degrees—in 2015-16 declined by 1.4 percent from the previous year, according to a new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. (Community College Daily, Feb. 6)

TN – Haslam Outlines Tuition-Free Community College Plan for Adults — In a surprise announcement during his State of the State address Monday, Gov. Bill Haslam outlined a plan to expand the Tennessee Promise scholarship model to allow adults to attend community college tuition-free. (Tennessean, Jan. 30)

Early Momentum Metrics: Why They Matter for College Improvement — In this report, the authors propose three measures of “early momentum” that colleges can use to gauge whether institutional reforms are improving student outcomes: 1) credit momentum is defined as attempting at least 15 semester credits in the first term or at least 30 semester credits in the first academic year, 2) gateway momentum is defined as taking and passing pathway-appropriate college-level math and college-level English in the first academic year, and 3) program momentum is defined as taking and passing at least nine semester credits in the student’s field of study in the first academic year. Research has indicated that these near-term metrics predict long-term success. In addition, these metrics focus attention on initial conditions at colleges that are particularly important for solidifying the foundation for student success. The authors discuss in detail the evidence supporting these metrics and how using early momentum metrics can help colleges reframe and focus reform efforts in positive ways.  (Community College Research Center)

State Information Request: State-Level Free College Proposals  ECS recently put together a document that overviews the current landscape of state-level free college proposals.

MO – Higher Education Collaboration Bill Could Help Cut Costs — Legislation proposed in a senate education committee hearing by state Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington, Tuesday afternoon would start collaboration programs between universities and colleges to expand degree availability. (Columbia Missourian, Feb. 7)