Improving Postsecondary Preparation: Lessons from the American Diploma Project Network

Michael Cohen, President of Achieve

Thursday, February 12, 2009 (All day)

Michael Cohen is a nationally recognized leader in education policy and standards-based reform. Michael's talk began by noting that many young people earn a high school diploma but lack the fundamental academic skills to be prepared for postsecondary education and 21st century careers. One of the key contributing factors is the gap between the expectations for high school graduation and the real world demands students face after completing high school.

The American Diploma Project (ADP) Network was formed in 2005 to help states close this gap and improve postsecondary preparation. Michael Cohen's talk provided an overview of the ADP policy agenda and the progress states are making in addressing it. He focused on the challenges of designing state policies in these areas, as well as the implementation challenges ahead. He also highlighted emerging state efforts to adopt common standards and assessments in the context of the ADP Network, and the potential opportunities created by this development.

Cohen's presentation at the University of Pittsburgh was entitled "Improving Postsecondary Preparation: Lessons from the American Diploma Project Network" and was presented on February 12, 2009.

Michael Cohen is a nationally recognized leader in education policy and standards-based reform. He has been the President of Achieve since 2003.  In 2006, Education Week ranked Achieve as the 7th most influential education policy organization in the nation, and ranked Achieve's landmark report, 'Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma That Counts' http://www.achieve.org/node/552, as among the most influential research studies in the past decade.

Under Michael's leadership, Achieve formed the American Diploma Project Network http://www.achieve.org/node/604, a growing network of states committed to improving preparation for postsecondary education and 21st century careers. Governors, chiefs state school officers, and state higher education and business leaders in these states have committed to align high school standards, curriculum, assessments and accountability with the knowledge and skills high school graduates need for success in postsecondary education and careers.

Michael held several senior education positions in the Clinton Administration, including Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education, Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy at the White House, and Senior Advisor to U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley. He led the Administration's effort to design, enact and implement Goals 2000, the  first substantial federal initiative to support state-led standards-based education reform. He also played an instrumental role in the development of all of the Administration's K-12 education initiatives.

Earlier in his career, Michael held key positions in several national organizations that work with state education policymakers, including Director of Education Policy for the National Governors Association, and Director of Policy Development and Planning for the National Association of State Boards of Education. Michael began his career at the National Institute of Education, where he led the Effective Schools research.