What Is Opportunity?: Defining, Operationalizing, and Measuring the Goal of Postsecondary Educational Opportunity
Author: Alisa F. Cunningham, Colleen T. O’Brien, Jamie P. Merisotis, Christina Redmond, and Thomas R. Wolanin, Ph.D.
The terms “opportunity,” “college opportunity,” and “equal opportunity,” have been part of the mainstream higher education lexicon for more than three decades. Despite this common usage, there is surprisingly little consensus about how to define "opportunity." In fact, there is such little understanding about what opportunity means—particularly in the public policy context—that the use of the word may actually cloud rather than clarify policy debates. This concept paper is intended to serve as an objective analytic tool to frame the core questions regarding how to define opportunity, set benchmarks, and move from benchmarks to actual measures. The paper served as a resource document at a June 1999 conference on these issues sponsored by IHEP, The Education Resources Institute, and the Council for Opportunity in Education.
Access and Success, Diversity
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