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Nancy Cole Biography

Nancy Cole
Educational Testing Service

As president of Educational Testing Service, Nancy Cole is responsible for guiding America's largest educational research and measurement organization. She is the fourth person to serve as president in the company's 50-year history.

On the occasion of the company’s golden anniversary, Cole observed: “What we teach, what we test, even what we aspire to, is but a mere glimpse of the possibilities that lie within our students, our schools, and those great human questions that will outlast all of our technologies.”

Cole previously served as ETS executive vice president for nearly five years. During that time, she oversaw the entire program administration process for the company.

Cole is regarded nationally as an expert in test fairness. In 1997, she co-authored Gender and Fair Assessment, the most extensive study on gender ever done in educational settings. The four-year research effort collected and analyzed data from more than 400 tests and other measures, reflecting the performance of more than 15 million students.

Among her many published reports are a paper in the Journal of Educational Measurement (1973) on approaches to test bias; a frequently cited review of bias issues in American Psychologist (1981), and a 1989 chapter on bias in test use in Robert Linn's Educational Measurement (Third Edition).

In 1998, Cole was appointed by the governor of New Jersey as a member of the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education, which coordinates higher education in the state.

Her record as a scholar and policy adviser in the field of assessment was recognized in 1988 by her election as president of the American Educational Research Association. Cole is also a member of the National Academy of Education and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association.

In the four years before she joined ETS, Cole served as dean of education and professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she was involved in national and statewide reform initiatives for improving schools and teacher education. Prior to that, Cole served for 10 years as a professor of educational research methodology at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Cole's extensive involvement with ETS began in 1965, when she served as an ETS Summer Graduate Fellow. She was a member of the Graduate Record Examinations Board for four years, chairing the research committee; and as a member of the College Board's SAT Committee, consulting on the New Possibilities Project. She was also elected to the ETS Board of Trustees in 1988. One year later, Cole came to ETS as its executive vice president.

Cole earned her Ph.D. and master's degree in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1968 and 1967, respectively. She acquired her bachelor of arts degree in psychology in 1964 at Rice University in Houston.

ETS is the world's largest private educational measurement institution and a leader in educational research. It develops and administers achievement, occupational and admissions tests, such as the SAT for the College Board, for clients in education, government and business. ETS annually administers more than 10 million exams in the United States and 180 other countries. Its Web site is located at

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