28.3.06

MARKET TESTS TAKE MANY FORMS. Economist John S. McGee once described markets as "environments in which powerful and appraising evolutionary forces are at work." Keep that in mind, then read this Philadelphia Inquirer report on pressure to introduce standardized tests into universities, and University Diaries' comments thereon. (Take the time to visit the sandhouse.)

One paragraph stands out.
[Former Texas system regent Charles] Miller dismissed the comparison [to No Child Left Behind, crowding out learning every day]. The states, not Washington, should take the lead on collegiate testing by requiring it at public universities, he said. Once the big state systems prove its value, he predicted, testing will be swept by market demand into private schools.
Market tests can also provide proofs of something's uselessness. Consider "New Coke" and football in a cage. And therein lies the real test for higher education. What happens when a major employer says "enough" to decoding inflated grades at the job fair and recruits out of high school? Neither the internal assessments the defenders of the status quo nor the taught-to standardized tests will be of any use.

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