Sunday, April 20, 2014

Can the Government Quantify Everything in Education?


That is the buzzword in education … and really everything these days. In the era of Big Data, we are planning to quantify everything that costs money, from health care to education to the price of avocados. And that can't be a bad thing, right?  With the rise of teacher-based accountability in many states including Colorado, and the huge faith being put in un-tested tests like the PARCC test, education "reformers" are arguing that a cost-benefit analysis is the answer to education's woes.

Now, that issue is hitting higher education, as the government seeks to protect its "investment" in colleges via things like FAFSA federal aid, Pell grants, and research grants. The question for many small liberal arts college facing scrutiny is whether the "US Colleges Should be Graded by the Government." Certainly, the rise of many for-profit universities (with abysmal graduation and job placement rates) like University of Phoenix and Westwood and Devry has led the government and tax-payer watchdogs to more closely scrutinize the industry. And, let's be clear, it is an industry.

So, can the government effectively quantify value to institutions of higher learning?

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