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Our Agenda

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education was founded in 1997 and charged with bringing a public interest perspective to state and national policy issues. For the last decade we have focused on state and national policies for education and training beyond high school through the baccalaureate degree. The major theme of our work is the raising of national and state educational attainment through policies that improve college readiness, access, completion and affordability, and the importance of explicit student learning outcomes.

Over the past year the National Center’s board of directors, staff and advisors have undertaken a strategic organizational assessment and planning process, one that included wide consultation. Our primary focus was on whether the policy agenda of the last decade is the appropriate one for the future or whether—and how—it might be altered or modified. At the same time, we addressed related issues of organization, staffing and funding.

Joni E. Finney, vice president of the National Center, discusses some of the report’s findings with board members.
Our principal conclusion is that the higher education attainment of Americans remains the core educational policy issue confronting the country in this era of demographic and economic transformation. Plainly stated, a greater number of Americans with higher levels of knowledge and skills, as reflected in postsecondary degrees and certificates, should be the essential state and national public policy agenda for education: Substantial progress on this agenda constitutes—and will constitute— the necessary condition for both individual opportunity and state and national prosperity.

The National Center will continue its emphasis on public policies that enlarge the pool of high school graduates ready to undertake college-level academic work, increase the college participation rates of high school graduates and working-age adults, improve the completion rates of those who enroll in college programs, address the problems of college affordability for low income and middle class Americans, and assure and improve the quality of student learning. This theme of higher levels of educational attainment will continue to guide the National Center’s studies, reports and programs.

The Board of Directors of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education approves the Center’s “Measuring Up 2008” report at a board meeting in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Our plans encompass both continuity and change:

  • The next edition of the national and state-by-state report cards on higher education, Measuring Up 2008, will be released on December 3.

  • The quarterly publication of National CrossTalk resumes with this issue.

  • The National Center’s Associates program for mid-career professionals in higher educational policy will recruit its next class in 2009.

  • A series of national policy reports will address key findings and policy implications of Measuring Up 2008.

  • A forum for college and university leaders on American higher education’s public agenda will be convened.

  • In-depth case studies of selected states will be undertaken to analyze and explain higher education performance as reflected in state Measuring Up report cards.

Board Chairman James B. Hunt Jr., former governor of North Carolina, studies the latest “Measuring Up” report.

On behalf of the National Center, I thank those who offered comments, advice and criticism during our strategic assessment. And I am grateful to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina Foundation for Education for their substantive contributions to our plans and for the financial support that has enabled the National Center to undertake these programs.

Patrick M. Callan

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National CrossTalk Fall 2008

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