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Policy and Performance in American Higher Education

, 282 pages

1 line drawing

May 2009



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Policy and Performance in American Higher Education

An Examination of Cases across State Systems

Policy and Performance in American Higher Education presents a new approach to understanding how public policy influences institutional performance, with practical insight for those charged with crafting and implementing higher education policy.

Public institutions of higher learning are called upon by state governments to provide educational access and opportunity for students. Paradoxically, the education policies enacted by state legislatures are often complex and costly to implement, which can ultimately detract from that mission. Richard Richardson, Jr., and Mario Martinez evaluate the higher education systems of five states to explain how these policies are developed and how they affect the performance of individual institutions.

The authors compare the higher education systems of New Mexico, California, South Dakota, New York, and New Jersey and describe the difficulty of enforcing state policies amid increasing demands for greater efficiency and accountability. In the process they identify the "rules in use"—rules that are central to the coherence and performance of higher education systems—that administrators apply to meet organizational goals within the constraints of changing, sometimes conflicting federal and state policies.

Incorporating rich data from seven years of observations, interviews, and research, Richardson and Martinez offer a clear comparative framework for understanding state higher education.

Richard Richardson, Jr., is a professor of higher education at New York University and senior author of Designing State Higher Education Systems for a New Century. Mario Martinez is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and author of Postsecondary Participation and State Policy: Meeting the Future Demand.

"Richardson and Martinez (2009) have provided us with a valuable case-study-based assessment of the relationship between states' policies and practices related to higher education system performance and the outcomes they get."

"This is a unique approach to higher education policy."

" Policy and Performance in American Higher Education is a valiant attempt to shed more light on the many aspects of state systems and how well they work."

"[ Policy and Performance in American Higher Education] substantially advances[s] our understanding of how governance varies across higher education systems."

"This book will be a valuable resource to higher education leaders, planners, scholars, state policy makers, and students of higher education."

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