Friday, February 02, 2007

Testing Comes to College

Although the Spellings Commission refrained from recommending graduation tests for college students, it doesn't look as though the issue is going away. From Inside Higher Ed:

Feb. 2
Texans and Their Tests

When the Education Secretary’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education started meeting, many professors and college leaders feared it would push for some sort of mandatory standardized testing of graduating college seniors — a prospect they saw as inconsistent with the values of liberal education. In the end, the Spellings Commission didn’t make such a recommendation. But in Texas — home to the education secretary and the panel’s chair — mandatory standardized testing for graduating seniors may now be on the way.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, on Thursday proposed a major expansion of state support for public higher education and for student aid. He also proposed one of the broadest testing requirements for graduating college students to date. Seniors would be required to take either licensure exams in their fields or Education Testing Service exams for various college majors. While students would not be required to pass the exams to graduate, colleges’ state funds would be linked to students’ scores, so institutions where many students did well on the standardized exams would get more money.

Perry says that the exit exams are needed “to protect integrity” in higher education and the tax support going to colleges. Many higher education leaders in the state are thrilled with the attention he’s paying to their institutions, and his willingness to provide real increases in financial support.

But faculty groups and advocates for Latino students are concerned about the testing requirement. Many fear that the exams will encourage a “teaching to the test” approach that’s not appropriate in higher education, that colleges will have incentives to place more emphasis in admissions on standardized tests, and that the new system will encourage uniformity and discourage creativity in undergraduate education.

More here.

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