A higher education commission named by the Bush administration is examining whether standardized testing should be expanded into universities and colleges to prove that students are learning and to allow easier comparisons on quality. …In my department (Computer Science) at Cal State, Los Angeles, we have been spending an inordinate amount of time preparing for accreditation. A simple test would be much better.
[P]ublic reporting of collegiate learning as measured through testing "would be greatly beneficial to the students, parents, taxpayers and employers" and that he would like to create a national database that includes measures of learning. "It would be a shame for the academy to say, 'We can't tell you what it is; you have to trust us,' " [Charles Miller, a business executive who is the commission's chairman] said. …
Kati Haycock, a commissioner who is director of the Education Trust in Washington, which has supported standardized testing, said in an e-mail message: "Any honest look at the new adult literacy level data for recent college grads leaves you very queasy. And the racial gaps are unconscionable. So doing something on the assessment side is probably important. The question is what and when."
Jonathan Grayer, another commissioner, who is chief executive of the test-coaching company Kaplan Inc., said that with so many students in college and so many tax dollars being spent, "it is important for us to seek some type of knowledge about how much learning is going on." …
"The unanswered question in higher education is: How good is the product?" said Robert Zemsky, a commission member who is a professor of education at the University of Pennsylvania. "A growing number of people are beginning to want answers. What higher education is about to learn is that they can't play the 'trust me' game anymore."
Part of what is driving the demand for accountability is money. Ms. Spellings [Secretary of Education] has said that about one-third of the annual investment in higher education comes from the federal government and that officials know very little about what they are getting in return.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Standard Tests for Colleges?
From New York Times.