I Passed College

Link to: Philadelphia Inquirer | 03/28/2006 | Colleges pushed to prove worth

Some time ago, Gardner proudly announced that he had passed 8th grade math. Soon, students at the nation’s 3000 universities may be able to display a little logo on their facebook or myspace accounts proudly documenting that they had passed their grade 16 test and were legitimately able to claim to be college graduates.

Over 100 institutions, including Lehigh, are experimenting with a standardized test that will demonstrate to legislators, business leaders and tuition paying parents that colleges really are doing their jobs and educating students. How will they do it–with essay tests like these:

Sample Writing Prompt: Public figures such as actors, politicians and athletes should expect people to be interested in their private lives. When they seek a public role, they should expect that they will lose at least some of their privacy.

That will be graded by a computer program called “e-rater”. Graduate students will be employed to grade the task performance section, which will include questions such as this:

Sample Performance Task

You are the assistant to Pat Williams, the president of DynaTech, a company that makes precision electronic instruments and navigational equipment. Sally Evans, a member of DynaTech’s sales force, recommended that DynaTech buy a small private plane (a SwiftAir 235) that she and other members of the sales force could use to visit customers. Pat was about to approve the purchase when there was an accident involving a SwiftAir 235.

You are provided with the following documentation:

1. Newspaper articles about the accident
2. Federal accident report on in-flight breakups in single-engine planes
3. Pat’s e-mail to you and Sally’s e-mail to Pat
4. Charts on SwiftAir’s performance characteristics
5. Amateur Pilot article comparing SwiftAir 235 to similar planes
6. Pictures and description of SwiftAir Models 180 and 235

Please prepare a memo that addresses several questions, including what data support or refute the claim that the type of wing on the SwiftAir 235 leads to more in-flight breakups, what other factors might have contributed to the accident and should be taken into account, and your overall recommendation about whether DynaTech should purchase the plane.

I hope there’s some kind of handicap system to level the playing field for non-aerospace engineers.

2 thoughts on “I Passed College”

  1. I see several issues with college testing proposal just like public schools face with the American Disabilities Act and NCLB. Looking at recent settlement cases from Alaska, Washington, and California, the exit exams in from these states for high school seniors were judged in appropriate because IEPs were violated when students did not get to use their accomodations on the state tests or when students were tested on material that was not taught. College students will need to have IEPs to be able to have approved accomodations. If students fail because of a disability, high school students get to retake their tests. Will college students with disabilities get that option as well? Just the expense involved with making sure these tests of reliable and valid will put an additional cost that will be passed on to students in already rising tuition rates. Colleges better have their alternative assessments ready: Attorneys will have a field day just like they are in public education.

    Perhaps this is all being done to have all colleges and public schools go private; I know it sounds so conspriacy theory like but one has got to wonder if there is any truth to what authors like Charlotte Iserbyt has to say @ http://www.deliberatedumbingdown.com

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