In the late 1990s, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA) recognized that the driving force behind the 21st century economy is knowledge, and that developing intellectual capital is the best way to ensure prosperity. In a series of publications NGA began to describe the ways that state governments, including their public colleges and universities, need to change to help their citizens develop this intellectual capital. Necessary changes include becoming flexible and adaptable, consumer friendly, reinvented with technology, accountable and performance-driven. Meanwhile, the market for postsecondary education has continued to grow in size and importance and on-line learning has begun to proliferate. The quantity and nature of the new economy's educational demands place extraordinary pressure on this new, more diverse postsecondary education market. Our nation not only needs more of its adults to have education and training beyond high school; it also needs more of its adults to possess scientific, mathematical, and technological competencies. Tightening state budgets intersect with these trends to heighten traditional gubernatorial concerns with access, cost, and accountability. Together, these trends lead Governors to ask for better measures of higher education quality. Specifically, they seek measures that are more performance than input-driven, focused on the customer, and adaptive to such technological changes as e-learning. NGA is engaged in a set of activities whose combined objective is the development of state policies that reward postsecondary efficiency and effectiveness. (1) A policy academy for eight states designed to develop new quality assurance practices for postsecondary education. State teams are participating in two annual meetings of the academy, where governors, state higher education executive officers, legislators and other key higher education stakeholders are working with national experts to identify new models for i) providing customer-driven, course-level quality assurance, and ii) assessing undergraduate student learning at the discipline and institutional levels. (2) A national forum for fifty states designed to help Governors define expectations and refine their postsecondary education accountability systems. Key themes of the meeting include: supporting K-12 reform with linked accountability systems; integrating learning outcomes and other measures of quality into accountability systems; and linking economic and social indicators to postsecondary education accountability. In addition to presentations of research findings and lessons from states, the forum includes workshops for board members, college presidents, and policymakers. (3) An Issue Brief designed to share existing research and practice in the emerging and important policy area of undergraduate student assessment. The desired outcomes of this proposed set of activities are: - Databases measuring course-level quality that are online and usable. - Comments and actions of Governors that reflect greater knowledge of the basic methodological and policy issues related to undergraduate student assessment. - Commissions, pilot studies, and/or large scale assessment investments that reflect stakeholder consensus for the need to comparably measure undergraduate competencies, including science, mathematics and technology literacy. - State higher education accountability systems that incorporate student learning data and link more closely to accountability systems for K-12.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE)
Standard Grant (Standard)
Application #
Program Officer
Myles G. Boylan
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
National Governors' Association
United States
Zip Code