Some of the hallmarks of No Child Left Behind are creeping into higher education.
The 2002 law was intended to hold elementary and secondary schools accountable for improving the academic achievement of all students. It has come to be reviled by many teachers for what they see as a narrowing of the curriculum to the material covered on standardized tests, and for punishing schools for their students’ performance.
Professors often invoke the law in objecting to calls for increased oversight—which they fear will come from the federal government or accreditors—as a cautionary tale of accountability run amok. But it is in the states, some of which are requiring colleges to demonstrate what their students are learning, that the real action is taking place.
Most of the efforts under way in a dozen states, still in their early stages, seek to answer mounting concerns about academic rigor in college. Two states are already using student surveys and standardized tests to document learning—and attaching financial rewards to the results. <Read more.>