“It’s Like Rating a Blender”

by VanessaVaile

ACADEME BLOG

That’s how Jamienne Studley, Deputy Under Secretary at the Education Department, regards the Obama administration’s proposed system of ranking colleges. “This is not so hard to get your mind around.”

Actually, it is.

All blenders have a single purpose. They take certain types of organic material and combine them into products of chosen consistency. They can be judged on these products, on durability, on noise, and on a few other factors. But that’s about it.

But colleges? Or any schools, for that matter. The criteria are not quite so simple, no matter how enamored with numbers and assessment one has become. Graduates are not products and are not meant to be consistent–not even within disciplines. Though they are expected to have certain skills, not even those are easily quantifiable. What does “having learned to learn” mean? How can you enumerate it? Yet that is probably the greatest skill one gains from any…

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