Defining and Analyzing the Issues
Diagnostic Questions
Compiling the Basic Data
Data Analyses
Creating a Policy Environment for Change
Formulating a Public Agenda
The Higher Education Policy Environment
The Capacity Audit
The Policy Audit
Policy Formulation
Alignment of Policy Tools: Two Examples
No Single Answer
Appendix: Examples of the Presentation of State Data
About the Authors
About the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education

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Formulating a Public Agenda

The information provided in Measuring Up 2000-and enhanced by in-state data and analyses-provides policy leaders with ammunition to pinpoint a limited number of issues most in need of attention and to develop a clear statement of objectives. Policy leadership, however, is a skill in its own right. Information, even if it is presented clearly and effectively, is a necessary but insufficient element in articulating and gaining consensus around an agenda.

In order to move a public agenda forward, state policymakers must:

  • Identify needs and articulate a vision. Although data and grades from Measuring Up 2000 and the follow-up analysis can help identify needs, that information must be linked to a statewide vision. A message that is convincing to state residents is imperative. Build consensus around the vision. Although some stakeholders in the state-such as institutional leaders-may understand the information and vision as presented, a broader constituency, including civic and business leaders, must be brought in to discuss the issues raised by the analyses.
  • Stay "on message." Having gathered the data and presented the information, every opportunity must taken to reiterate the message in a deliberate and consistent manner. Progress on how well the message is being disseminated to stakeholders should be monitored and reported publicly. Mid-course corrections can then be made with the full understanding of all interested parties.
  • Align the implementation tools. Available tools include planning, structure and governance, regulation, budget, and accountability measures. These tools need to be used in mutually reinforcing ways that will enhance the statewide vision while also addressing the areas targeted for improvement.
For a more detailed discussion of the use of information to create a demand for educational improvement and policy action, see Transforming Postsecondary Education for the 21st Century: The Nuts and Bolts of Policy Leadership, available from the Education Commission of the States.


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