The U.S. Department of Education recently discussed the possibility of standardized testing for undergraduate college students as a new measurment system for evaluating students
at different colleges.
p. The plan was proposed by the Commission of the Future of Higher Education as a way of increasing institutions’ accountability and measuring what students learn over the course of their university education. Carl Strikwerda, dean of the faculty of arts and sciences, said that universities already are subject to tests and standards by accrediting groups, professional associations and state agencies.
p. “A national, standardized test would almost inevitably be a lowest common denominator that would have little value for most parents, students and the general public,” Strikwerda said.
p. The Spellings Commission, named for the Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, Commission would not help the public and would burden colleges and universities with wasteful bureaucracy.”
p. There has been much controversy among the administrative community about the commission’s proposals. Barbara Brittingham of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges’ Commission on Institutions of Higher Education said that the organization wants schools to have the right to self-determination.
p. Brittingham, who has testified for the Spellings Commission twice, said that the accreditation agency wants a system by which schools can state their own goals, measure student learning and success and use that information to make informed decisions about improving their curricula and procedures. Dean Strikwerda said that the strength of American higher education is its diversity, including technical colleges, broad liberal arts schools, large state universities and private religious colleges. Strikwerda added that standardized testing would only hinder the growth of such diversity and deter foreign students.
p. “U.S. higher education, with all of its faults, is universally recognized as the best in the world, as evidenced by the millions of citizens of other countries who would like to study here,” Strikwerda said.
p. “We should continue to fund higher education as best we can and let us do our work of educating the next generation.”