Student assessment has been under assault for years now. And that assault usually begins with the attack on “high-stakes” tests.
In recent weeks, there has been a great deal of discussion about the core standards movement and how “public” the development of these national standards will truly be. Those who see such standards as a needed pathway to lead us to real, tangible improvement and focus on quality believe the process is just underway. Those who see monsters under the bed and hear things that go bump in the night are certain that the deck is already stacked, the standards are already written, and we’re merely going through the motions.
Down here in Eduflack’s temporary offices in Central America (long story, but the good news is that it looks like baby Eduflackette, who turned one on Saturday, should be coming home to the DC area for good before the end of the year), my eye was caught by a newsbrief in the NYTimes Digest (even I’m not willing to pay $8 for the full NYT down here) about the latest commission report on college admissions.
At face value, that doesn’t seem too bad. But let’s take a look at increases over the past decade. For those going to private schools, tuition and fees have increased 72 percent over the last 10 years. And in our public institutions, those schools designed to provide ALL students with a postsecondary education, costs have increased nearly 100 percent since 1997. USA Today has the story — http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2007-10-22-college-price_N.htm?csp=34.
Only the price of a gallon of gasoline has experienced greater inflation that a college degree. Even healthcare costs haven’t increased, over the same time period, like college tuition prices.
What message does this send, particularly at a time when we preach that very student needs a postsecondary education? Is that college diploma 100 percent more valuable? Are starting salaries out of college 72 percent higher today than they were in 1997? Are we learning more in college today? Do we have greater access to full professors? Are classes smaller? Are offerings more specialized and relevant?
Of course, the answer to all of these is no. Prices are rising because they can rise. College endowments are at an all-time high; sticker price doesn’t haven’t to exceed inflation. More student loan money is available today than ever before. But we don’t need every student to max out to go to college. We do it because it is expected. We know college tuition will exceed inflation every year, and we have come to accept it.
If we are really going to sell today’s high school students on the notion that a postsecondary education is necessary for career and life success (and the data shows that it is), we need to also show that quality postsecondary education can be found at an affordable price. Not everyone needs a $160K college diploma to secure a good job. Not everyone needs to borrow six figures in student loans to get a meaningful college degree.
Eduflack looks at his 18-month-old son, and often wonders what college is in his future. Eduwife is a proud grad of Stanford University (BA and MA) and UPenn (Ed.D.). At this rate, Eduflack is looking at starting tuition and fees for Stanford’s freshmen of 2024 coming in at nearly $125,000 a year. It’s never too early to teach Eduson football or golf.