Monday, November 09, 2015

Massachusetts shoots the messenger

How do they know that they "were turning away some great students whose standardized test scores did not reflect their ability to succeed”?  What crystal ball do they have which outsmarts the SAT?  It's nonsense of course.

But it's easy to translate what they mean: "We were turning away presentable but dumb black students whom we thought might have a chance at university".  So they are scrapping the messenger (the SAT) that was telling them that such students really are incapable at university

The University of Massachusetts Lowell and Salem State University have both dropped the SAT requirement for admissions this fall on a temporary basis, reports The Boston Globe .

The universities are the latest to join the trend — hundreds of schools have abandoned the standardized test, a topic of heated debate. Supporters say the test is a good way to compare students from a variety of backgrounds; Critics say it favors kids from wealthy, well-educated families, reports the Globe.

“We were turning away some great students whose standardized test scores did not reflect their ability to succeed,” Kerri Johnston, associate dean of enrollment and director of admissions at UMass Lowell, wrote in a letter to high school counselors last month, reported the Globe.


What This College President Thinks Obama’s College Scorecard Is Missing

The U.S. Department of Education has released its “College Scorecard,” a searchable college-affordability database that President Obama described as containing “reliable data on every institution of higher education.” Unfortunately, that simply isn’t true.

I can say so as a president of a college excluded from the scorecard. This scorecard generally poses risks to institutional autonomy and may shape the American higher education landscape in unexpected, negative ways.

Nearly two centuries ago, writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr penned the words, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

For independent Grove City College, a highly ranked private liberal arts college that fought a higher education legal battle with the Department of Education all the way to the Supreme Court in 1984, this proverb is all too real.

Back then, I was a recent graduate of Grove City College; today, I serve as its president. And once again, Grove City College must respond to the long arm of the f­­­­ederal government in higher education, as we did three decades ago.

Because Grove City College does not accept federal financial aid as a matter of principle, we are excluded from the scorecard. We understand that accepting federal student aid opens colleges and universities to a myriad of federal regulations.

Our 1984 Supreme Court case (GCC v. Bell) was about that issue—freedom from intrusive and expensive federal regulation—and we decided to raise private support and use private student loans to maintain independence from the federal government.

As one of my predecessors, Dr. John Moore, observed in 1996 when Grove City College withdrew from the federal student loan program, “[t]here is no way to be sure that the government would not add regulations that would strike at the heart of the College’s mission. As a private, Christian college, we have legitimate concern about federal interference in what we teach and how we teach it.”

Today, most Americans might find it admirable that our 2,500 students do not take federal tax dollars to fund their degrees. And yet, sadly, the American people cannot learn about Grove City College via the Department of Education’s scorecard, despite Obama’s boast that it includes every college and university.

This means students are not learning about a valuable educational choice. Ironically, as the regulatory burden on higher education increases, our independence as an institution has increased in importance and economic value: Our tuition is far below the national average, 95 percent of our last two graduating classes were employed or in graduate school within six months, and our alumni earnings are in the top quartile nationally according to

The federal government’s intrusion into this realm carries a real threat to institutional autonomy. In 2013, before settling on the College Scorecard, the Obama administration proposed a comprehensive federal ratings system to measure accessibility, affordability, and outcomes at all American colleges and universities.

The results of this system would have determined institutional eligibility for participation in the federal student aid program. Smaller private colleges that focus on classroom teaching tend to be tuition-dependent, making federal student aid their financial lifeblood. Poor performance on the proposed ratings system would have spelled doom for many private colleges, thereby diminishing a great strength of the American system of higher education: its institutional diversity.

The proposed ratings system was eventually scrapped in response to the objections of the higher education community, yet shades of its heavy-handed determinism remain in the scorecard. The federal government is now the purveyor of an official website that sanctions one set of institutional performance criteria in a one-size-fits-all manner. Colleges of all stripes—public and private, large and small, urban and rural, religiously affiliated and non-sectarian—are evaluated by the same criteria, regardless of institutional mission or context.

The danger is that the public will view the College scorecard as an objective consumer information tool, and colleges will focus on the outcomes contained therein to the detriment of other less quantifiable—but equally important—institutional objectives.

In addition to financial indicators, at Grove City College we consider other indicators just as important for measuring how well we are accomplishing our mission. At our 2009 conference “Faith, Freedom, and Higher Education,” Professor Gary Scott Smith, Ph.D., said, “The mission of today’s Christian colleges is extremely challenging and incredibly important. They are called to prepare well-educated, committed Christians who can serve God lovingly, joyfully, courageously, and diligently in a world with enormous spiritual, material, and physical needs.”

In short, we measure the value of education by the holistic value it provides to our students, to the nation, to the world—to the common good.

Performance metrics and accountability in higher education are critical to quality and public confidence. As the general public evaluates the College Scorecard, it would be wise to consider the cost of the expanded federal role it represents. Grove City College has demonstrated that excellence does not have to be bankrolled by the federal government.

Upon further review, we believe that the public will conclude that appropriate measures of educational quality do not have to be decreed by the federal government, either.


Australia Tops Education Marks In Global Prosperity Report

Australia's education system has been ranked the best in the world by a new report into global prosperity.

The Legatum Prosperity Index, assembled by the Legatum Institute, bills itself as "a uniquely multi-dimensional picture of the world’s nations," ranking 142 countries in economy, entrepreneurship and opportunity, governance, education, personal freedom, safety and security, health and social capital.

Australia is ranked seventh in the overall prosperity ranking, but was awarded top marks for education. The education ranking was determined through analysing data around class size, girls to boys enrolment ratio, secondary and tertiary enrolment, perceptions that children learn and satisfaction with educational quality.

Aside from the chart-topping rank in education, the rest of Australia's marks were hardly impressive. Australia ranked fourth in social capital -- which includes volunteering, charitable donations, helping strangers, trust in others and marriage -- ninth in personal freedom and 10th in governance, but failed to crack the top 10 in any other category.

We ranked 12th in economy, 14th in entrepreneurship and opportunity, 15th in health and 15th in safety and security.

Australian ranked seventh overall out of the 142 countries, the third year in a row we have occupied the #7 spot.

The top positions were, predictably, dominated by Scandinavian nations. Norway topped the list, followed by Switzerland and Denmark, but our trans-Tasman neighbours New Zealand now occupy fourth spot on the global prosperity index.


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