It sure seems to be what the current powers that be at my beloved CMC live and die by.
But Noooooo, our esteemed President has appointed a commission to explore "whether standardized testing should be expanded into universities and colleges to prove that students are learning and to allow easier comparisons on quality."
Where to begin . . . .
I defy anyone to compose a true test for evaluating and comparing a liberal arts education. I doubt, however, that Bush et al get the whole liberal arts thing, nuance not being their strong suit.
Charles Miller, a business executive who is the commission's chairman, wrote in a memorandum recently to the 18 other members that he saw a developing consensus over the need for more accountability in higher education."Accountability in higher education, eh? So how will you impose a standardized test? Tie it to federal funding? That's the only way I can think of to hamstring private colleges and universities.
"What is clearly lacking is a nationwide system for comparative performance purposes, using standard formats," Mr. Miller wrote, adding that student learning was a main component that should be measured.
Mr. Miller was head of the Regents of the University of Texas a few years ago when they directed the university's nine campuses to use standardized tests to prove students were learning. He points to the test being tried there and to two other testing initiatives as evidence that assessment of writing, analytical skills and critical thinking is possible.
Do you think Miller and the commission know that there are different colleges with different educational methodologies and internal metrics to measure student accomplishment.
[Of course, I can't help but think about CMC powers trying to shoe-horn Stags and Athenas into someone else's metrics, but dammit, dealing with one misguided attempt is enough - must we be made to battle the feds as well?]
And, speaking from personal, current experience, let me say this as plainly as possible and doing my best to restrain my use of the caps lock button: standardized tests don't test the efficacy of education, they test the ABILITY TO PASS A STANDARDIZED TEST.
With the exception of perhaps 5% of the material I'm cramming into my head right now, EVERYTHING else on the bar, if used in everyday practice, would get my ass sued for malpractice faster than you can say violation of the duty of competence.
And squeaking through life on SAT or LSAT knowledge won't get you far either unless you find a job with the ulter-exclusive Institute for the Creation of specialized analogies which, I'm pretty sure is as hard to get into as . . . .hell, you finish the damn joke, I'm too mad.
Mr. Miller says he would like the commission to agree on the skills college students "ought to be learning:"
like writing, critical thinking and problem solving — and to express that view forcefully. "What happens with reform," he said, "is that it rarely happens overnight, and it rarely happens with a mandate."Gee, I didn't know our collleges sucked so bad. But I suppose this is just another clever way to pave over Bush's failures in improving secondary education. If American kids learned, oh, say, ANYTHING in high school, maybe they could be competitive in the world without going to these - now apparently suspect - institutes of higher education.
College is not compulsory. It's not a guaranteed right. What in the hell business is it of the federal government to look down this avenue of faux-reform?
If Miller and the commission are concerned about students' failure to learn life skills NOW, wait until they start gearing their education to the passage of an arbitrary, dumb-enough-for-government-work-and-to-avoid-litigation exams.