The Atlantic Monthly: Tell the truth about colleges
One of The Atlantic Monthly’s “modest ideas for making the world a better place” — from Thomas Toch, “Tell the truth about colleges”:
Only about half of all college entrants earn degrees within six years. And many who do aren’t learning much: one study indicates, for instance, that only 38 percent of graduating college students can successfully compare the viewpoints of two newspaper editorials. …
Reliable measures of the quality of undergraduate teaching already exist. The National Survey of Student Engagement gathers data on factors proven to correlate with learning—things like the number of books and lengthy papers assigned in courses. (The organization reports little relationship between having a prominent brand name and teaching students well.) The Collegiate Learning Assessment tests students’ critical thinking and measures progress over a college career.
But the nonprofits that administer the CLA and NSSE can’t report their findings publicly. Colleges and universities participate voluntarily and have control over the distribution of results. Many are loath to put them on public display, because reputation doesn’t necessarily align with results.