Monday, September 11
Measuring Up: The National Report Card on Higher Education has just come out for 2006.

Some highlights:
1) The Sky is Falling. Our nation is in dire trouble because we are falling behind and global competition is going to kick our behinds.

2) College costs too much. Only 1 state shows improvement on a majority of the indicators for affordability.

3) It's hard to measure college learning with standardized instruments. But 9 states are praised by NCPPHE (National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education) for trying anyway. Coming soon: the one standardized uniform national college exit exam.*

This year's NCPPHE report card is likely to be overshadowed by the release later this month of Secretary Spellings' Commission on Higher Education final report (happily, not in the form of a report card). has had great coverage of the work of the commission, including an excellent article on how the Dept. of Ed is trying to enact the report's recommendations even before the report is released. Without congress.

The scariest part of the nightmare that is higher ed policy in the US currently is Secretary Spellings' comments on the release of the report card. To the people at NCPPHE who put out the report card, she says “I’m glad to have you with me on the side of the angels,”. Evidently, the angels support standardized learning outcomes assessment, strict accountability and performance indicators, and decreased Pell grants. I personally don't remember the angels saying that in the Bible, but I could be wrong. Maybe it was Charlie's Angels. Whoever the angels are, they seem to have been involved in writing the Commission's draft report, given that the first sentence is about puritans and ministers. PURITANS.

To be fair, there are parts of the NCPPHE and the Commission's agenda that I agree with, like tracking the rates of participation in higher education of people from different ethnic and racial backgrounds. But the overall thrust of the report card and the Commission's report is that the liberal yahoos that have been running higher education into the ground need to get out of the way so that accountable, hard-headed, right-thinking people can get down to the business of assessing what students are (not) learning and laying the blame squarely on the shoulders of the latte-drinking liberal elite secular humanists** where it belongs.

* Ok, this is a bit of an exaggeration. Even the most assessment-happy folks think there should be at least 2 or 3 different tests.

** Not angels.


kodachrome said...

Thistle, could you run down (or up, or over) to washington and tell them that we quit drinking lattes six years ago when we switched to the hard stuff for the election night party that never ended. I won't speak for the rest of 'em, but I can tell you that I've been a worthless alcoholic ever since. (kidding!)

Clear said...

I just want to be clear (ha! pun!) that I have been an academic for some time and have never once in my life had a latte. Or bought anything from a farmer's market. I don't really listen to NPR. Sometimes I even vote for Republican candidates. Okay, I made that last one up.

Chartreuse Circe said...

Yup, the world is definately headed to hell in a handbasket, because clearly all that matters is that assessment score -- really, the students don't need to learn anything, as that might make them question their alien overlords.

Seriously, I am very concerned about the changes in the purpose of higher education, and its new control.

Thanks for posting this, Thistle!