ETS Launches First Large-Scale System for Evaluating Personal Attributes
- Mark I. McNutt
- Mark I. McNutt
Princeton, NJ (July 7, 2009) —
This press release is also available in Spanish.
Educational Testing Service (ETS) announced today that students applying to graduate and professional school will have access to a first-of-its-kind evaluation tool that provides evidence of a broader range of their capabilities. The ETS® Personal Potential Index (ETS® PPI), a web-based evaluation system for graduate applicants, provides evaluator ratings on specific personal attributes that graduate and professional school deans and faculty say are critical for academic success.
The launch of ETS PPI marks the first large-scale use of noncognitive measures for admissions in higher education. Noncognitive or personal attributes — sometimes referred to as "soft skills" — are considered essential for academic success.
The 6 personal attributes captured by ETS PPI are Knowledge and Creativity; Communication Skills; Teamwork; Resilience; Planning and Organization; and Ethics and Integrity.
Based on more than a decade of research, ETS PPI was developed in response to requests from graduate deans and admissions professionals to address a need for noncognitive measures to evaluate applicants. The development and introduction of ETS PPI comes with the full support of the independent Graduate Record Examinations® (GRE®) Board.
Michael L. Jeffries, Associate Dean of Students at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and Director of McNair Scholars & Minority Student Affairs, says ETS PPI will help identify candidates that might otherwise have been missed, while expanding opportunities for a diverse range of students. The McNair Scholars Program is a national initiative aimed at increasing the number of first-generation, low-income and/or underrepresented students in Ph.D. programs.
"The graduate community needs to continue to reduce barriers to graduate education and allow more underrepresented scholars to join the ranks of the professoriate," explains Jeffries. "To the extent that the ETS PPI will broaden opportunities for students, it is something that I strongly support."
ETS PPI has been piloted for the past three years through the National Hispanic Research Center’s Project 1000, a program based at the University of Arizona that seeks to increase the number of underrepresented students in graduate school. ETS PPI also was successfully used during this time by ETS for selecting candidates for its summer intern program.
According to David G. Payne, Ph.D., Vice President and COO in the ETS Higher Education & School Assessments Division, research indicates that achievement gaps that exist in standardized tests do not exist in noncognitive measures, which is why ETS PPI is seen as a tool that may help to level the playing field for students seeking graduate and professional degrees, such as an MBA.
"Solid GRE scores and undergraduate grades are very important, but they don't provide the complete picture of a candidate's potential," says Payne. "We've known for some time, thanks to research and anecdotal evidence, that qualities like resilience and teamwork were indicators of success in graduate school. The problem was how to measure them effectively. But now, with the introduction of ETS PPI, we have a tool that allows for accurate and valid measures of these critical personal attributes."
Students who have registered for the GRE General Test starting May 1, 2009 will have the option of using ETS PPI and sending up to 4 ETS PPI evaluation reports at no additional cost. ETS PPI is not exclusive to GRE registrants. It is available to past GRE test takers and others for a fee of $20 per report.
How it Works
- Student creates an ETS PPI profile online
- Student provides contact information for the evaluators he or she would like to complete an ETS PPI evaluation
- ETS sends an e-mail to each evaluator inviting them to access the ETS PPI system to complete the student's evaluation
- Evaluators log in to the system and respond to a series of statements to rate the student on the 6 personal attributes and to provide an overall rating of the student
- Student is notified when each evaluation has been completed
- Student then chooses the schools to which the evaluations will be sent
- ETS creates an evaluation report, and sends it to the institutions designated by the student
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At nonprofit ETS, we advance quality and equity in education for people worldwide by creating assessments based on rigorous research. ETS serves individuals, educational institutions and government agencies by providing customized solutions for teacher certification, English language learning, and elementary, secondary and post-secondary education, as well as conducting education research, analysis and policy studies. Founded in 1947, ETS develops, administers and scores more than 50 million tests annually — including the TOEFL® and TOEIC® tests, the GRE® General Test and Subject Tests and The Praxis Series™ assessments — in more than 180 countries, at over 9,000 locations worldwide.