Kentucky: Council on Postsecondary Education

Council on Postsecondary Education
Council on Postsecondary Education issues summary report on student engagement

Press Release Date:  Monday, May 22, 2006  
Contact Information:  Sue Patrick
502-573-1555 ext. 308

A report released today by the Council on Postsecondary Education shows students at Kentucky’s public universities engage in effective educational practices at levels similar to students in other states.  

The National Survey of Student Engagement 2005 Benchmark Summary Report provides aggregated results from each Kentucky university’s NSSE Benchmark Report. The benchmark report measures students’ perceptions of their engagement in five benchmark categories and compares them to a group of peer institutions and national data. The benchmark categories include level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experiences, and supportive campus environment.

Kentucky was one of the first states in the nation to incorporate the NSSE (nicknamed “Nessie”) into a statewide accountability system in 2001. The Council uses the NSSE survey results as one of its institutional key indicators to measure progress in student learning. 

 “Research shows the more students are engaged in effective educational practices, both inside and outside the classroom, the more they will learn and develop during college,” said Council President Tom Layzell. “The NSSE survey can serve as a great tool for our institutions to better prepare their students for life and work in Kentucky.”

The Council’s 2005-2010 Public Agenda focuses strategic initiatives on improving the quality of the learning experience in addition to increasing postsecondary education access, retention and graduation.

Of the 140 peer and national comparisons analyzed in the summary report, 77 percent of the comparisons were equal to or above the peer groups versus 60 percent when compared to national comparison groups, or groups that include all institutions participating in the 2005 survey. The lower percentage with the national comparison group may be a result of the large percentage of small, private liberal arts institutions included in the national average, according to the report.

Nationally, 225,000 randomly selected students from 518 public and private colleges and universities participated in the 2005 survey. When students respond at engagement levels equal to or above the peer institutions or national norms, they are performing at levels comparable to students at both public and private institutions.

In Kentucky, the NSSE survey is administered to freshman and senior students at each public four-year university every two years.

For the comprehensive universities, the peer comparison group represents other master’s granting colleges and universities whose students took the NSSE. For UK and UofL, the peer group represents doctoral granting universities who administered the NSSE.

The Kentucky Community and Technical College System will begin administering the Community College Survey of Student Engagement this year. Six KCTCS districts will administer the survey this spring and all remaining districts will have participated by summer 2008.

In related news, the Council will host the 2006 Kentucky Conference on Student Engagement May 23–24 in Lexington to discuss how to use NSSE survey results to improve student success. Chief academic and student affairs officers will discuss academic program design, assessment, planning and student support service responsibilities. Representatives from all of Kentucky’s public and private institutions were invited to attend.  Dr. John Roush, president of Centre College, will address the conference attendees. Centre has earned national distinction as an exemplary institution in using and promoting NSSE results for institutional improvement.


To view the NSSE 2005  Annual Report, visit

To view Kentucky’s NSSE 2005 Benchmark Summary Report and a summary of state-level accountability for student learning, visit

 Kentucky's postsecondary education system encompasses eight public institutions and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, numerous independent institutions and Kentucky Adult Education. The system represents 235,083 students, 538,866 Kentucky alumni and 294,896 GED graduates. When Kentuckians earn postsecondary degrees, their skills improve and their wages go up; they are more likely to lead healthy lives and be engaged in their communities; and they build better futures for themselves and their families.


Last Updated 5/25/2006