The current Atlantic offer a thoughtprovoking list of “ideas to save the world.” Leaping out at this blogger is the one entitled Tell the Truth About Colleges. Thomas Toch directs a think-tank called Education Sector, and here he argues that
influential college rankings like the one published by U.S. News & World Report measure mostly wealth and status (alumni giving rates, school reputation, incoming students’ SAT scores); they reveal next to nothing about what students learn. We need to shed more light on how well colleges are educating their students—to help prospective students make better decisions, and to exert pressure on the whole system to provide better value for money.
I agree; more to the point is my enthusiasm for the tools Toch recommends to do this, to “shed more light on how well colleges are educating:” the National Survey of Student Engagement and the College Learning Assessment. Like Toch, I think these two tools, when used in combination, can reveal a great deal about how well schools are engaging and preparing their students– and regular readers of this blog know both that I have previously enthusiastically endorsed the secondary school analogues of each of these, the HSSSE and the CWRA, and that we are implementing both at St. Gregory College Prep. It is great to see these vehicles for promoting school excellence advocated for in a national magazine; indeed, to see them labeled as ideas to save the world! Surveying and testing kids– we are saving the world!