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Center News

December 8, 1999


Higher Education and the Schools summarizes the current condition of K-12 school reform, and explores the policy implications of these reform issues for the future of higher education. An expert in education policy -- P. Michael Timpane, senior advisor for education policy at RAND -- authored the report, which is published jointly by the Institute for Educational Leadership, the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, and the State Higher Education Executive Officers.

The report argues that American higher education has not been involved significantly in contemporary school reform, and proposes a "modest first step" as a prelude to cooperative policy development and action that state-sponsored leadership forums be created to promote regular discussion of reform issues between higher education and K-12 systems.

The author begins by outlining key elements in contemporary public school reform, including: creating goals and standards, establishing a school-wide learning environment, enhancing teacher training, and focusing on improving urban schools. In relation to teaching training, Timpane argues that "education reform demands a radical overhaul of both pre-service and in-service training"-- both of which must engage higher education "much more fundamentally" in the school reforms now taking place. Timpane asks: "Are schools of education ready to handle this challenge? Are colleges and universities ready to give this challenge appropriate priority?"

In describing the "modest but real outcomes" of K-12 reform, Timpane argues that achievement levels vary significantly by state. "Will such comparisons," he poses, "be made about higher education in the years ahead?"

A New Compact
In describing the current relationship between K-12 and higher education in the United States, Timpane finds it "disappointing but not surprising that American higher education has been so little involved in the formulation or execution of contemporary school reform." In light of this disjunction, Timpane makes a "modest proposal" to establish closer relationships between K-12 and higher education by creating "state-sponsored leadership forums" that will give a higher priority to discussing reform issues as a necessary prelude to cooperative policy development and action.

This report is part of a new series, "Perspectives in Public Policy: Connecting Higher Education and the Public Schools," that seeks to promote public and educational policies designed to strengthen the linkage between schools and higher education. The series is co-sponsored by The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, and The Institute for Educational Leadership.

Additional copies of this report are available for $15 per copy; quantity discounts are available for orders over nine. To order publications from this series, please email (iel@iel.org) or fax (202-872-4050) your request to the Institute for Educational Leadership. Please refer to the publication title and number (K-16 Report #99-02) when ordering.

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education was established in 1998 to promote opportunity, affordability and quality in American higher education. As an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, the National Center provides action-oriented analyses of state and federal policies affecting education beyond high school. The Institute for Educational Leadership, established in 1964, is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization based in Washington, DC. IEL's mission is to help institutions and individuals work together across boundaries to make better decisions and to take actions that improve the educational, social, and personal development of children and youth.


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© 1999 The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education

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