Interview with Catherine Millett, ETS

31 Aug 2018 - 13:15

Having recently celebrated 15 years of service at Educational Testing Service (ETS) and serving as chair of the Executive Committee of the global social movement, Global Access to Postsecondary Education (GAPS), Catherine Millett has a wealth of experience in education. She sat down with us recently to provide some insight into the work she does, and to share her thoughts on the synergies between ETS, GAPS, and CEA.

“ETS was founded 70 years ago,” says Millett, “with the idea that assessment can be a tool to help promote opportunities for learners. At that time, the constellation of universities in the US wasn’t that large and access was very limited. It was typically for white males with a certain socio-economic status. The idea was that the assessments we did would help us find talent in many other places who could then go to these schools. We’ve continued to espouse that belief and we’re now a global company.”

Millett’s role at ETS is Senior Research Scientist in Policy, Evaluation and Research, where the focus is on avenues that work alongside testing and on foregrounding educational access for students. In terms of research at ETS, Millett has been working on a longitudinal study about the “NEETs” – those Not in Education, Employment, or Training – that looks at the pathways these young people take and the kind of interventions that would be necessary to mitigate this issue.

Some of the challenges that ETS is facing are similar to those faced by CEA. One such challenge is that of concerns from the general public about the value of the assessments ETS provides and their role in inclusion in admissions decisions. Millett emphasises that these assessments are just one, objective piece of information in the admissions process and that this message needs to be widely and continuously disseminated.

GAPs was formed in 2011 as an organisation dedicated to bringing together organisations that focus on college access. A few years ago, this role widened to include not only access, but also success at college and beyond. Millett’s additional professional role as Chair of the Executive Committee of GAPS “goes hand in glove,” she says, with her ETS position. “GAPS fits perfectly for me,” she says, “because it’s about issues I care about. We’ve expanded our key issues to include inclusive pedagogy, which is a way of thinking about how we begin to shape learning experiences so that they are more reflective of the students themselves.”

Millett envisages opportunities to work with CEA on a variety of issues, including a focus on writers who fall within the lower quartiles on the National Benchmark Tests, and the reporting of test results to writers to facilitate academic interventions. We look forward to collaborating with her.