GSE Publications

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Institute for Research on Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education


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 persistent gaps 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.

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Date Posted: 20 November 2015