All Penn AHEAD Papers

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Working Paper

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Higher education, access, completion, national competitiveness, performance of higher education institutions, public policy, state policy, state role, costs, effectiveness, trade-offs

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


As the need for a highly knowledgeable citizenry grows, fewer Americans are accessing training and education beyond high school. The failure to attain postsecondary degrees and workforce certificates is particularly pervasive among low-income and minority populations. An undereducated citizenry leaves the country at a competitive disadvantage, diminishes the middle class, and lowers the standard of living for more and more people. Although the federal government plays an important role in higher education, states bear the primary responsibility for developing their own public higher education systems, including policies for funding and governing higher education and for connecting higher education with public schools.

Renewing the Promise: State Policies to Improve Higher Education Performance summarizes the findings from a study that sought to understand how public policy explains the collective performance of higher education institutions in five states— Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Texas, and Washington—that have similar challenges as other states, such as the need to increase educational attainment and close persistentgaps in opportunity by race, ethnicity, income, and geography. The study reviewed state higher education performance and policies from the early 1990s through approximately 2010, including policies and statutes related to higher education finance, accountability, structure, and governance. We augmented our review of state policies and data by interviewing political, business, and higher education leaders in each state.

Funder Acknowledgment

The State Review Project was guided by a national advisory committee including Julie Davis Bell, National Conference of State Legislatures; Patrick Kelly, National Center for Higher Education Management Systems; Paul Lingenfelter, State Higher Education Executive Officers; Richard R. Richardson, New York University; and Jane Wellman, Delta Cost Project.

Graduate students from the University of Pennsylvania participating in data collection and analysis include Michael Armijo, Awilda Rodriguez, and Jamey Rorison.

The State Review Project was supported with funds from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education through grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Lumina Foundation for Education. Students participating in the project were supported, in part, by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant #R305B090015 to the University of Pennsylvania.



Date Posted: 02 November 2020