Building an Equitable System for Postsecondary Education Transition and Success

McPherson ME, Duong T, Payne CK, Riley CL, Taylor J. Building an Equitable System for Postsecondary Education Transition and Success. Boston: Institute for Healthcare Improvement; 2021. (Available at

Based on IHI’s background in health and health care, we recognize certain similarities between the education and health care sectors in terms of strengths and assets and also some systemic challenges both sectors face with coordination and transitions across settings, collaboration, robust sharing of improvement data, deeper person-centeredness, equity, and accountability and transparency.

The framework presented in this document focuses on "Whole Person" and "Whole Community" portfolios to guide work to achieve student well-being and community well-being, now and in the future. It builds directly from IHI's work on Pathways to Population Health (an initiative of 100 Million Healthier Lives), which guides actions health care organizations can undertake to improve health, well-being, and equity.

The framework’s four portfolios can help educational practitioners partner with students to identify and align the strategies they already are applying in their context, while also assessing what else might be needed to co-create an equitable system for postsecondary transition and success.


The intent of the framework is to support stakeholders in secondary and postsecondary institutions and related community settings to identify strategies that will facilitate successful transitions from secondary to postsecondary settings, and ultimately support increasing acquisition of postsecondary credentials of value for students who are Black, Latinx, first generation college-going, and/ or experiencing poverty.

The framework can help stakeholders align existing efforts and identify new directions for their efforts to produce more equitable systems for postsecondary education transition and success. This work supports a "global aim" of transforming the education system to support postsecondary completion and overall thriving for students most marginalized by the education system.

The work presented in this document was done in partnership with StriveTogether, whose mission is to partner with communities to ensure that every child has every chance to succeed, because race, ethnicity, poverty, and circumstance should not determine opportunity or outcome. This document is based on research funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The findings and conclusions contained within are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Testing the Framework in Seven Communities

In this short video from IHI’s partners at StriveTogether, learn how communities participating in the Postsecondary Transitions Action Community applied the framework to their work.

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