The Complex Universe of Alternative Postsecondary Credentials and Pathways


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Jessie Brown and Martin Kurzweil
Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education

Martin Kurzweil is the director of the Educational Transformation Program at Ithaka S+R (, a not-for-profit in New York City that studies and supports the implementation of innovations that improve student postsecondary success. Since launching the program in 2015, Martin and his team have conducted research, convened stakeholders, and advised higher education leaders on topics such as predictive analytics, proactive advising, adaptive learning platforms, course redesign, alternative credentials and pathways, accreditation, big data ethics, and the process of institutional change. A lawyer by training, Martin has spent most of his career in education research and policy, including roles at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the New York City Department of Education, and on the faculty of Columbia Law School. In addition to Ithaka S+R reports such as “Student Data in the Digital Era: An Overview of Current Practices” ( and “Institutional Transformation for Student Success” (, Martin has published in outlets ranging from The Huffington Post to the California Law Review. He is the coauthor of Equity and Excellence in American Higher Education, which received the 2006 American Educational Research Association Outstanding Book Award.

Jessie Brown is an analyst in the Educational Transformation Program at Ithaka S+R. As a founding member of the team, Jessie managed Ithaka S+R’s series of Case Studies in Educational Transformation (, which profiles institutions that have innovated to improve student outcomes in cost-effective ways. Jessie has also led an evaluation of online learning at liberal arts colleges and has published reports on adaptive courseware, learning analytics, instructional improvement, and socioeconomic diversity at elite schools. Prior to working at Ithaka S+R, Jessie was a project manager and analyst at a software company in San Francisco. She holds a B.A. in American Studies and a Master’s degree in Architectural History from the University of California, Berkeley.