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Examining American Post-Secondary Education

Liu, Ou Lydia
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Higher Education, Retention Rates, Graduation Rates, Learning Outcomes, Accountability


The purpose of this report is to identify the most prominent issues in U.S. higher education and to develop strategic research plans to address the issues that are most relevant to ETS’s capabilities in measurement and assessment through the ETS’s higher education research initiative. In the United States, issues related to higher education such as improved performance and effective accountability have received unprecedented attention from stakeholders at many levels. At the national level, President Obama has set forth an ambitious agenda for American postsecondary education such that by 2020, the United States should once again have the largest concentration of citizens with a postsecondary degree. At the corporate level, ETS, as the world’s largest educational research and testing organization, is ready to move beyond testing program-based research in higher education and has the capability to deal with some of the most thorny issues in higher education. By strategically expanding post-secondary research, ETS will establish itself as a pioneer and thought leader in the field of higher education. The first part of the research report identifies four key issues existing in American higher education: enrollment and performance, retention and degree attainment, student learning and experience, and learning outcomes and accountability. The second part of the research report develops an ETS research agenda with short-term and long-term plans to address these issues. The agenda specifies short-term and long-term research goals that are specific, attainable, and measurable. Research findings from the studies proposed in this agenda have a potential for advancing understanding of the current situation and future needs of American higher education and also contributing to enhanced student learning at postsecondary institutions. Reaffirming and strengthening American higher education is critical to this country’s success in the 21st century.

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