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cal04 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-10-06 09:02 PM
Original message
Panel's Report Urges Higher Education Shake-Up
A federal commission approved a final report on Thursday that urges a broad shake-up of American higher education. It calls for public universities to measure learning with standardized tests, federal monitoring of college quality and sweeping changes in financial aid.

The panel also called on policy makers and leaders in higher education to find new ways to control costs, saying college tuition should grow no faster than median family income, although it opposed price controls.

The report recommended bolstering Pell grants, the basic building block of federal student aid, by making the program cover a larger percentage of public college tuition. That proposal could cost billions of dollars.

Eighteen of the 19 members of the panel, the Commission on the Future of Higher Education, voted to sign the report, which attacked increasing tuition costs and pointed to signs of complacency on some campuses. David Ward, who as president of the largest association of colleges and universities was the most powerful representative of the higher education establishment on the commission, refused to sign.
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evlbstrd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-10-06 09:09 PM
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1. I like the Pell Grant aspect,
but otherwise, it sounds like No Academic Left Behind.
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Scooter24 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-10-06 09:09 PM
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2. This could be disasterous...
creating a 2-tier system for public vs. private universities.

Also, by forcing colleges to test students through legislation, Congress will be directly affecting how colleges structure their curriculum.

IMHO, it won't fly.
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megatherium Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-10-06 10:02 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. It's already happening.
Accreditation agencies are pushing on colleges and universities to adopt "assessment plans," where each academic program is required to state learning goals and learning outcomes, and implement measures (such as tests) to assess learning against explicit criteria. Also, departments involved in general education (classes outside the major, such as writing) must state learning goals, outcomes, measures and criteria. Heaven help a school that does not do this in a reasonably sincere manner -- reaccreditation can be in jeopardy. This happened some years ago where I teach: we were put on probation by the Higher Education Commission (formerly known as the North Central Association), and we built a campus-wide assessment plan.

However, the accreditation agency for our school allows universities to state their own goals and measures. We aren't expected to use external measures such as nationally normed tests for student learning, although certain programs do use these. Perhaps that will come next.

The problem is that starting about 40 years ago, grades in colleges ceased to have any meaning. Where I teach it's well-known that some faculty give pretty much every student As or Bs. Some departments, such as the math department, still have a high DFW rate (Ds, Fs, withdrawals), but some do not.

As for curriculum, we also got into trouble because we didn't have an explicit or coherent general education structure at our school. Each academic program pretty much had their own general education setup. The acceditation agency told us we had to have a common general education scheme, so that everyone, regardless of major, would have the same sorts of classes to guarantee they were well-educated. This turned into a huge fiasco at my school because every program jumped on top of this to get their courses into the new gen ed framework, and it became way too complicated. (We just hacked it back down to a barely manageable size.)

By the way, Texas requires every one of its public universities to have the same general education "core" curriculum, where students are required (for example) to take six hours of US history. This is meant to ensure all students have the same foundation of knowledge as citizens, and to make sure every student can transfer from one university in the system to another without any problem. I keep hoping they'll do that in my state, my colleagues would blow a gasket but we're too incompetent to come up with a simple, reasonable system of our own.
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rodeodance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 07:36 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. yes, I taught at a Univ. for a while and know the problems with Accred
ation. Yet, I can see the transferability does good the student.

It also keeps Administrators in line--when they try to hire people who hardly know how to tie a shoe!
But this is the FED stepping in--has the footprint of NCLB extended to higher ed. NOT GOOD>
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rodeodance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 07:22 AM
Response to Original message
4. Good for David Ward--I believe he is the same Ward from Madison, WI
Former administrator.

This is a bad sign--Feds telling Universities what to do.
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