ETS President Kurt Landgraf Featured Speaker at Rothman Institute

Address focused on developing a "Culture of Innovation" at ETS


Princeton, N.J. (November 20, 2013) —

After thirteen years of turning Educational Testing Service (ETS) into one the world's largest and most successful non-profit educational measurement and research companies, President Kurt Landgraf discussed how he nurtured a culture of innovation at his organization during the 2013 CEO Innovation Lecture presented by the Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurship at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

The lecture series, now in its eighth year, has become the highest profile innovation lecture in the state. Over the years, corporate leaders and executives from New Jersey's major corporations have provided insight and personal experiences of innovation to an audience of students and executives from a variety of industries.

Landgraf detailed some of the innovative ideas, products and approaches undertaken and accomplished since becoming ETS's CEO in August 2000. These include making ETS a major player in the K-12 market; providing high-quality products and research for the government's No Child Left Behind effort; ETS's current work with the new Common Core Standards; developing and implementing natural language processing technology for an online writing evaluation service; launching the first large-scale, global, Internet-based test, the TOEFL iBT and much more.

The Future of Assessment

Attendees also learned of the dramatic change taking place at all levels of educational assessment, and Landgraf told them that tomorrow's tests are going to look very different from today's — with regard to who, what, how and even why we measure. Assessment will also play a larger role in teaching, learning, institutional effectiveness, the workplace and public policy.

"It's the result of a convergence of factors," Landgraf said. "Evolving notions of what it means to be an educated person, worker and citizen in the 21st century; advances in technology that enable tests to do and measure more; and developments in education and cognitive sciences, which have led to greater understanding of the influence on learning and performance of affective, emotional, situational and social processes."

"There is also the ascendance of critical thinking over rote memorization," he added. "There's broad agreement that in our complex, knowledge-oriented world and workplace, students need to learn how to think critically and creatively, reason logically, interpret relationally and access and create knowledge. The three R's have been replaced by the five C's: creativity; conceptualization; communication; collaboration and computer literacy."

Those notions underlie the Common Core State Standards in math and English Language Arts that most states have adopted, Landgraf explained. The new Standards emphasize thinking and problem-solving, and create a coherent "staircase" or progression of learning from kindergarten to 12th grade, and culminating in the skills and knowledge required for entry-level courses in college or vocational programs.

"Of course, a new generation of curriculum standards requires a new generation of assessments," he said. "That's what works with two Common Core consortia, PARCC and Smarter Balanced. The assessments are as innovative and as dramatic a break from the past as the curriculum standards are."

Does Innovation Pay Off?

Landgraf outlined some of the benefits of innovation and the organizations efforts to expand its social mission. He noted that both operating revenue and the number of employees have almost tripled, creating a situation where more employees have greater resources to do good.

"Having done well, we've been able to do good in the world, which is our mission to advance quality and equity in education for learners worldwide," Landgraf explained. "That matters, because education matters. Research and experience have consistently shown correlations between educational attainment and success. Education can improve personal and public health and overall quality of life; strengthen communities and societies; increase wealth; heighten interest in environmental quality; and promote harmony and collaboration among people of different backgrounds and cultures."

In conclusion, Landgraf said, "I could not begin to list the lessons that I learned over the past 13 years at ETS. But one stands out. I learned that business is not about assets and liabilities. It's about people. An organization succeeds or fails by what is in people's hearts and minds. So if you want to succeed in business, if you want people to be innovative, creative and dream up ideas that have never been imagined before, and then take them to the marketplace, then you better know about people."

Landgraf joined ETS as President and Chief Executive Officer in 2000. Since then, he has overseen ETS's entrance into the K–12 market, expanded its global business, broadened its education research activities, and nurtured its social mission through collaborations with groups serving underrepresented students.

He began his career at ETS more than 30 years ago, when he served as Associate Director of Marketing. Before returning to ETS in 2000, he held leadership positions at DuPont, including Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the DuPont Pharmaceutical Company, and at the Upjohn Company.

Besides expanding ETS's business and research activities, Landgraf has led the company's efforts to help close the academic achievement gap between affluent and disadvantaged students. ETS has strengthened its ties to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the National Urban League, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, the ASPIRA Association and Native American education groups. Landgraf also has led the establishment of innovative company programs to assist New Jersey communities and service groups and improve education.

About The Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurship

The mission of FDU's Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurship is to teach and support entrepreneurship in the academic and business communities. Since 1989, as part of the Silberman College of Business, the Institute has been supporting entrepreneurship and innovation by offering academic and outreach programs on the local, regional and increasingly, global levels. An outstanding entrepreneurship curriculum taught by an excellent faculty has helped make our academic program one of the finest in the nation. In addition, our expanding outreach programs enable us to help more people to succeed.

About ETS

At 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 as a nonprofit in 1947, ETS develops, administers and scores more than 50 million tests annually — including the TOEFL® and TOEIC® tests, the GRE® tests and The Praxis Series™ assessments — in more than 180 countries, at over 9,000 locations worldwide.