Sunday, July 17, 2011

The College Report Card: Making Colleges More Transparent and Accountable (3-min. version)

Here's a three-minute version of my video arguing that perhaps the most potent thing that could be done to improve the quality of college education and, in turn, improve society, is for the federal government to require all colleges to post on their website an externally audited report card on themselves.

Below the video is a transcript of it as well as links to a longer version of this video, other writings on the College Report Card, including an actual proposed Report Card, and a version of a College Report Card that would be invaluable for students and families to use in choosing a college.

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Here is the transcript:

There has finally been a spate of books and articles in major publications asserting that higher education adds remarkably little value for all the time, money, and opportunity cost.

Colleges have been extremely resistant to change but I've come up with an approach that is remarkably simple yet would be remarkably potent: requiring all colleges to post a College Report Card on themselves on their website. The College Report Card would be externally audited to avoid cheating.

A College Report Card would include such items as:
  • how much freshman-to-senior growth occurs in reading, writing, critical thinking, mathematical reasoning, etc.,
  • the graduation rate in 4, 5, and six years, broken down by students' high school records.
  • employability: what percentage of graduates are professional employed within a year of graduation, broken down by major.
  • a student satisfaction survey-It's of course valuable to hear what the customer says.
  • A summary of the accreditation team's visiting report.
  • (Note: I neglected to include one key item: the true cost of attendance for four, five, and six years broken down by family income and assets.)
Of course, a College Report Card would help students choose a college, which is critical because it's one of the largest and most important purchases people ever make.

But also, importantly, a College Report Card would--because the students, the public, and legislators would see how much or how little value the college provides--would finally put real pressure on colleges to compete, to improve, rather than allocate so much of their resources to fat administrations and to research, so much of which they know apriori will be of little value.

I'm doing my best to promulgate the idea of requiring all colleges to post a substantive College Report Card. I think that would do great good not only for students and for higher education, but for the nation as a whole because while education is far from the magic pill we wish it would be, educating our best and brightest, most of whom go to college, could go a long way to helping us survive if not thrive in our ever more challenging global economy.

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HERE is a link to a longer (14-minute) version of this video.

HERE is a link to a four-page proposal for a College Report Card, which includes a sample Report Card.

HERE is a link to a College Report Card that students and families might use to help pick a college

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