Monday, June 26, 2006

College Exit Exams

A few months ago, I posted about the New "C" in No Child Left Behind and U.S. Secretary of Education's Commission on the Future of Higher Education. Florida State University seems to be beating the commission to the punch line. FSU is looking into a college exit exam for its students.

Florida State University took a small but significant step this month when its board of trustees agreed to look at testing students in basic skills as a graduation requirement. FSU could require such a test for all students as soon as fall 2007.
Texas has experimented with similar testing of college graduates under the direction of Charles Miller. He is now the head of the Commission on the Future of Higher Education and a strong advocate for standardized testing. The commission's final report is due September. According to Miller, they are not planning to recommend standardized testing at the college level. However, he believes that when colleges see the benefit (read ties to federal funds) they will begin to adopt these tests all on their own.

College exit exams are a foolish idea. They are just another piece in the move toward national standards and increased federal control over higher education.

In a related story, the commission is facing increased scrutiny and in an unexpected move, will release a draft of their report today. It will be interesting to see just how bad the "crisis" in higher education is and what the federal government thinks is necessary to fix it. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: A draft of the report has been released. According to one report,
The draft also backs a proposed national system to track individual students through the educational system. Supporters contend it would provide essential data, but colleges and universities have opposed it on privacy grounds.
The draft also called for incentives to increase the use of standardized tests at the college level. As I said above, that means they want federal funds tied to the use of standardized tests. The tracking of individual students through testing is part of a desire for a seamless K-16 career tracking system. Not a good sign.

Inside Higher Ed, and The New York Times are also reporting on the draft.

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