Thursday, February 9, 2006

Standardized testing for colleges

News that Margaret Spellings' ominous-sounding Commission on the Future of Higher Education has been advocating nationalized, standardized testing for higher education (not to get in, but to assess what a student got out of it) has been reported a bit already, and assessment has been a movement and problem at the accredidation level for some time, but now the NYT is covering it, so now it must be important, you know.

Anyway, there's no way I have the time and energy right now to cover all that is mind-boggling wrong with this push, so I will limit myself to two points which I think are key, and which should be addressed and thought about long before any of the other wrong-headed problems with any of this.

1) If a college student -- an independent adult living away from home with myriad distractions and responsibilities outside of school, and the onus of time management and study completely on his/her shoulders -- fails to learn, is that necessarily a reflection of the quality of the teaching?

2) If the Secretary of Education and her commission members want to test every graduating college student in the nation in the areas of critical thinking, writing, and problem solving, I say: Be my guest. Of course, you'll be grading it all, right Margaret?


Heo said...

!@#$%^&! Standardized testing at the university level. Because it's done SUCH wonders for the grade school and high school levels, right? Because it's very easy to round up English majors and Chemistry majors and Anthropology majors and test them all in a way that's completely non-biased and tests skill-sets rather than knowledge-bases.

Does this woman own stock in a testing company? The ONLY good I can see coming from adding more high-stakes testing to the educational experience is the creation of jobs for test-designers. Grrrrr.

Vausey said...

The mere thought of this wacko idea is making my head hurt.

Ditto on what heocwaeth said.

Dr. Virago said...

HeoCwaeth, your eloquent rage says exactly what I didn't have the time and energy to say this morning. Thanks!

Bardiac said...

What a crappy idea.

Next up, some administrator's going to be telling the faculty that WE need to read these standardized tests.

I just cannot imagine a bubble test that will say anything meaningful about anything other than a student's ability and willingness to fill in bubbles.

word verification: cckyrb, which seems remarkably apt for this cockamamy idea.

Ancrene Wiseass said...

I am thinking, right now, that I have some very innovative ideas for what Margaret Spellings ought to do with her bubble sheets. And it does not include passing them out to college students.

Maybe she and her supporters don't realize it, but I think we spend the vast majority of our time as college educators trying to correct problems that are directly attributable to students having spent most of their educational lives learning how to take standardized tests--and very little else.

MT said...

I think we should have a standardized test for the whole world. We should make the world better if it isn't scoring well.

Dr. Virago said...

I'm not sure they have in mind a bubble test, but that said, whatever they have in mind, I agree with AW's assessment of where it should go.

And MT - Hee!

UMSSG said...

As a student leader I feel Spellings suggestions are valid. I can't tell you how many times I see faculty members passing students that should be failing. It's as though you(faculty) will not fail a student because it reflects poorly on your skills as a professor. There are students who will graduate in May and can not construct a paragraph. That is the direct result of faculty not doing their job. YOU SHOULD READ THE BUBBLE SHEETS. There are faculty members in higher ed who, by not failing students, are failing this nation.