Thursday, February 09, 2006

Panel Explores Standardized Tests for Colleges

Can you imagine the farce this might become!?

The Commission on the Future of Higher Education is discussing whether college students need to take standardized exams as part of their graduation requirements. The Bush appointees who lead the commission imagine a system of testing that would look like No Child Left Behind.

Lets completely change the nature of a university into a test-prep institution and give up on the liberal arts all together, why don't we?

As I reflect on this story, I think about my own postings about the slipping quality of higher education. We are all caught in the vice of access and graduation rates. Do we simply fail out the unqualified student or do we pass them on through? If we don't admit them and pass them our state appropriations dry up. Would standardized testing improve this? I don't think so.

This is not a dilemma standardized testing really addresses. If someone decides to demand this kind of testing out of the universities, we will be forced to spend our time training mediocre students to pass standardized tests.

This is not what college should be about. How can we concentrate on the larger issues that are key to our student's lives as citizens and human beings if we are spending time asking them to memorize test questions? Will you have time to read some obscure work of literature that won't be on the test if the administration is breathing down your neck to keep improving pass-the-test rates? Can you veer off on to a tangent that your class is so interested in if it is not testable material?

If you are doing new innovative research, don't talk about that--it won't be on the test for another decade.

This doesn't even get into the problems of trying to decide what a test might look like. Will all colleges be forced to have the same curriculum to keep their federal funding? All majors at all schools will have to include the same basket of courses?

I could go on and on . . .

Panel Explores Standard Tests for Colleges - New York Times

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