"For too long, colleges and universities have said to the American public, to students and their parents, 'Trust us, we're professional. If we say that you're learning and we give you a diploma it means you're prepared,' " said Michael Poliakoff, vice president of policy for the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. "But that's not true."Betsy Newmark suggests that the test be available to anyone of working age.
The new voluntary test, which the nonprofit behind it calls CLA +, represents the latest threat to the fraying monopoly that traditional four-year colleges have enjoyed in defining what it means to be well educated.
Even as students spend more on tuition—and take on increasing debt to pay for it—they are earning diplomas whose value is harder to calculate. Studies show that grade-point averages, or GPAs, have been rising steadily for decades, but employers feel many new graduates aren't prepared for the workforce.
Meanwhile, more students are taking inexpensive classes such as Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, but have no way to earn a meaningful academic credential from them.
HNTB Corp., a national architectural firm with 3,600 employees, see value in new tools such as the CLA +, said Michael Sweeney, a senior vice president. Even students with top grades from good schools may not "be able to write well or make an argument," he said. "I think at some point everybody has been fooled by good grades or a good resume."
The new test "has the potential to be a very powerful tool for employers," said Ronald Gidwitz, a board member of the Council for Aid to Education, the group behind the test, and a retired chief executive of Helene Curtis, a Chicago-based hair-care company that was bought by Unilever in 1996.
Only one in four employers think that two- and four-year colleges are doing a good job preparing students for the global economy, according to a 2010 survey conducted for the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
I just wonder if employers would be willing to look at the grade an applicant could score on the CLA even if the applicant had never attended college. If the test really tells the employer something, perhaps it could be a way for those seeking jobs to bypass college and still demonstrate their readiness for employment.I suspect Griggs v. Duke Power gets in the way of such testing, although the evolution of credentialing as a legal screening device that deteriorates into an aptitude test because of the failure of the credentialing institutions to do their work properly is funny.
Professor Mead suggests that such a test might be a way of breaking the false signal a prestige degree confers.
And with a strong performance on this test, gifted students from a small state school could better compete with students from Harvard and Yale when they enter the job market. As always, much of the success will come down to the details of this particular test, but it’s a promising beginning.Yes, provided the small state schools recognize that they are in the same business as Harvard and Yale. The difficult work, though, is in fixing the model in which "access" means Distressed Material accepted at the loading dock, "assessment" is the denial of market tests (the exit examination strongly suggesting that even the name institutions are failing), "remediation" lowers the bar for everybody, and "retention" is about conferring degrees, whether or not there is anything to the degrees.
Against that background, teaching to the test is probably going to look like less work to the legions of deanlets and deanlings that will have to implement it.