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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Contact: Daphne Borromeo
Voice: (408) 271-2699
E-mail: dborromeo@highereducation.org

New Report Allows States to Measure Learning of College-Educated Population

San Jose, CA— The details of a first-of-its-kind assessment of college-level learning were released in a new report today by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

The study, Measuring Up on College-Level Learning, found that a state can collect information on the knowledge and skills of its college-educated population and use the data to gauge where it stands in comparison to other states. Previously, states did not have the information or ability to make these comparisons.

The National Center's earliest 50-state report cards on higher education performance, Measuring Up 2000 and Measuring Up 2002, gave each state an "Incomplete" in Learning, a category which evaluates what is known about student learning as a result of education and training beyond high school.

The lack of information caused concern among policy, business, and education leaders. With funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the National Forum on College-Level Learning was created to develop a model for states to evaluate learning.

The project was led by Margaret Miller, director of the Center for the Study of Higher Education and professor at the Curry School, University of Virginia. Peter Ewell, vice president of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, served as senior consultant.

Between 2002 and 2004, the Forum worked with Illinois, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Nevada, and South Carolina to create and test the model. The project used national assessments of adult literacy, tests that many students take when they leave college, and specially administered tests of general intellectual skills. The results were evaluated to assess the number of highly knowledgeable, skilled people in each state's workforce.

All of the states that participated in the pilot demonstrated that college-level learning could be measured in a way that allows for state-by-state comparisons. In acknowledgement of their successful implementation of the model, the National Center's most recent higher education report card, Measuring Up 2004, awarded all of the participating states a "Plus" in Learning.

The model's statewide approach allows states to collect information that answers two critical questions:

  1. What are the knowledge and skills of the population that states have available to them for developing or sustaining a competitive economy and vital civic life?
  2. How do all the state colleges and universities, including public, private, not-for-profit, and for-profit, contribute to the development of those skills and knowledge?
"In a knowledge-based economy, a state's future depends on the education of its workforce," says Patrick M. Callan, president of the National Center. "This project has shown that states can assess learning in ways that provide useful information for policymakers and educators in identifying problems and stimulating and targeting improvement."

Measuring Up on College-Level Learning provides a detailed account of the project and its findings for states interested in replicating the model used, including required resources and cost estimates.

The project's findings suggest that a nationwide benchmark for learning can eventually be created.

Measuring Up on College-Level Learning will be released Thursday, October 13, 2005. The report will be available on the National Center's Web site (www.highereducation.org) upon release.

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education promotes public policies that enhance Americans' opportunities to pursue and achieve a quality higher education. Established in 1998, the National Center is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. It is not associated with any institution of higher education, with any political party, or with any government agency.

The National Center is supported by grants from The Atlantic Philanthropies, The Ford Foundation, and The Pew Charitable Trusts. Special funding for the Measuring Up reports is provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


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© 2006 The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education

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