New Website to Serve as Repository for College Success Research

In an effort to provide timely and relevant information on college access and success, the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) launched a new website Tuesday that serves a repository for some of the latest research in the field.

The website is called PolicyDirect, and its backers at the Lumina Foundation for Education say the scholar-reviewed reports on the site will ultimately lead to more informed decision-making in the realm of higher education.

“We think it’s going to be a real asset to help us reach the national attainment goal that’s essential to our work at the foundation and critical to the nation’s future,” said Jamie Merisotis, president of the Lumina Foundation and a co-founder of IHEP.

Merisotis was referring to the Obama administration’s goal to return the United States to its former status as the most college-educated nation in the world by 2020—a goal that mirrors the Lumina Foundation’s Goal 2025, which is to ensure that 60 percent of Americans have a postsecondary credential or degree with labor market value by 2025.

“We need policymakers, researchers and practitioners to work together to help students succeed,” Merisotis said. “We think that PolicyDirect is a terrific tool to facilitate that collaborative work because it provides the one element that’s indispensable to good decision-making, and that’s good information.”

“We know there’s no silver bullet to get to that 60 percent level,” Merisotis continued. “That’s why good research is so critical and that’s why we think PolicyDirect has such great potential by providing timely and trusted information in an accessible and clear way.

“It can, as its name implies, direct us toward a discussion that improves both policy and practice.”

Reports on the website can be accessed by asking a question in the search field or simply entering a keyword. A search for “access,” for instance,” turned up 99 results—at least for a report from as far back as 1999 but most from recent years. Each report on the website is accompanied by a brief summary written by a group of “emerging scholars.”

One standout feature about the website is that it enables users to change the settings for a search so that reports can be ranked by a series of factors that range from how scalable and cost effective the findings of a particular report were, to how insightful and enduring a particular report is to the field. There is also a way to search for reports that are more qualitative or quantitative, or both.

Dr. Michelle Asha Cooper, president of IHEP, said the reports on the web site were rated on these factors in an effort to help people better assess how practical and useful a particular report is on a variety of metrics.

“Each day we are bombarded with so much information,” Cooper said. “It’s hard to determine what’s important and what’s not.”

IHEP officials say the website will be updated annually but that there are plans to update it more frequently in the future.