Educational Testing Service

December 08, 2010 10:00 ET

Research Conference Aims to Improve Students' College and Workforce Readiness

United States Continues to Fall Behind Other Nations in Educational Attainment and Competency

PRINCETON, NJ--(Marketwire - December 8, 2010) - Educational Testing Service (ETS), The American Educational Research Association (AERA), and the College Board ® today are convening a research conference bringing together 21 acclaimed scholars to improve the nation's understanding of college and workforce readiness by examining cognitive and noncognitive competencies necessary for success in school and society.

"Building Better Students: Preparation for Life After High School" aims to examine the current state of knowledge of college and workforce readiness and to advance future research in the area. Keynote addresses will be delivered by Jim Shelton, U.S. Department of Education; Jane Oates, U.S. Department of Labor; and The Honorable Roy Romer, the College Board. The conference is being held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Crystal City in Arlington, Va. and runs through December 10.

"The United States continues to fall behind in educational attainment and competency," said Richard Roberts, ETS Principal Research Scientist and one of the conference's chief organizers. "In order to remain a leader in developing a skilled workforce to compete in the global economy, steps must be taken to ensure high school students are prepared to succeed in college, at work and in life."

The last decade has seen an increase in the amount of research on college and workforce readiness. What has been missing is a focused dialogue among the nation's researchers, policymakers and educators -- with the purpose of finding ways to build a base of knowledge that can inform policy and practice in order to create an education system that "builds better students."

"While many stakeholders have promoted their own definitions of college and career readiness, such determinations should be empirically-based on data from success in higher education or the workforce," said Wayne J. Camara, Vice President of Research and Development at the College Board. 

Any dialogue about college and workforce readiness must acknowledge two facets of competency: Cognitive competency, or the skills and knowledge that students need to be able to succeed, and noncognitive competency, or the psychological attributes that students must have to be productive members of society.

The objectives of the conference include:

  • Dissemination of information obtained from the conference participants through a dedicated website, high-impact peer-reviewed journal articles and an edited book.
  • Formulating principles for providing a scientific model of college and workplace readiness that will, in turn, inform future theory, research and practice.
  • Development of a taxonomy of college and workforce readiness constructs, from which it may be possible to derive a college and workforce readiness test battery for use in selection, classification, training and self-assessment.
  • Assimilation of a body of knowledge that examines the applications of readiness paradigms to national economic needs. This body of knowledge will provide a template for future research conducted by the college and workforce readiness community.

Throughout the conference participants will share ideas and focus on methods to improve readiness through four key areas: teachers and curriculum, programmatic interventions, selection and assessment, and policy.

"By addressing college and workforce readiness through these four areas in both cognitive and noncognitive contexts, we hope to bring a broader range of perspectives to the question of building better students," Roberts, also an AERA member, said.

The conference registration fee is $249.00. To register and for a detailed agenda, a list of key sessions, presentations and speakers, please visit

Registration is free for members of the press. News media interested in attending should contact Becky Powell at (609) 683-2092 or Media interested in speaking with a representative of the College Board should contact Jennifer Topiel at (212) 713-8052 or Media interested in speaking with a representative of the American Educational Research Association may contact Helaine Patterson (202) 238-3235 or

About ETS
At nonprofit ETS, we advance quality and equity in education for people worldwide by creating assessments based on rigorous research. ETS serves individuals, educational institutions and government agencies by providing customized solutions for teacher certification, English language learning, and elementary, secondary and post-secondary education, as well as conducting education research, analysis and policy studies. Founded in 1947, ETS develops, administers and scores more than 50 million tests annually -- including the TOEFL® and TOEIC® tests, the GRE® tests and The Praxis Series™ assessments -- in more than 180 countries, at over 9,000 locations worldwide.

About the College Board
The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board was created to expand access to higher education. Today, the membership association is made up of more than 5,900 of the nation's leading educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education. Each year, the College Board helps more than seven million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success -- including the SAT® and the Advanced Placement Program®. The organization also serves the education community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators and schools.

About AERA
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is the national interdisciplinary research association for approximately 25,000 scholars who undertake research in education. Founded in 1916 and located in Washington, DC, AERA aims to advance knowledge about education, to encourage scholarly inquiry related to education, and to promote the use of research to improve education and serve the public good.

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