Saturday, June 02, 2007

Assessment of the Value of Higher Education

Universities are quick to publish the SAT/ACT scores of incoming students. They will brag about the number of National Merit Scholars in their classes, but what about the quality of their graduates? American universities want to keep that mysterious, they want to be judged solely upon what they accept as students. What goes out the other end after 6 years of drinking and debauchery for a bachelor's degree is too complex to judge, and assess or so the average university administrator would want us to believe. Just keep sending in the taxpayer money, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. They present brochures of ivy covered buildings as reassurance to the parents, whereas the kids can get the score on the party scene. Comfort to all.

There are several measures of success that universities could apply, e.g.
  • Discipline specific exams such as the MFAT's and others from professional societies Unemployment rate of the graduates 1, 5, and 10 years after graduation
  • Employer satisfaction of the graduates
Because of the rot from K-12 reaching up into higher ed, universities are under heat to prove their worth. Look for universities to use tools such as retention and graduate rates, student evaluations of teaching, and student satisfaction forms to assess themselves. Everything but what their graduates have learned in this race to assess. Why? Because dude, it's way too complex to assess our grads!

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