Chester Finn Worries that “College Ready” Is Damaging “College Educated”
Fordham Institute former president Chester Finn is concerned about the “cheapening” of the meaning of “college educated.”
Here is some of Finn’s April 25, 2015, lament:
A vast amount of contemporary education policy attention and education reform energy has been lavished on the task of defining and gauging “college readiness” and then taking steps to align K–12 outcomes more closely with it. …
The entire Common Core edifice—and the assessments, cut scores, and accountability arrangements built atop it—presupposes that “college-ready” has the same definition that it has long enjoyed…
The idea of graduating more “college-ready” kids from high school is intended to lighten the remediation burden…
But what if “college-ready” no longer means that you actually have to be prepared to succeed in credit-bearing college courses? Or if “credit-bearing courses” are diluted such that more people appear “prepared” to succeed in them, even though such success means less than it once did? …
Note that Finn writes of lots of “attention,” “presupposition,” “energy,” “intention,” and “ideas”– but no field testing.
Hold that thought.
Finn closes his post with the following concern for “reform efforts”:
The last thing American education needs—and a potentially mortal wound to other reform efforts—is to further cheapen the meaning of “college-educated.” Which cannot be severed entirely from the meaning of “college-ready.”
In July 2010, in, the Fordham Institute produced a report in which it graded all state standards and DC; graded the then-month-old CCSS, and shaped the language in the report so that CCSS was always photographed through beauty-enhancing gauze filters when compared to state standards.
In the years that followed, Fordham Institute then-executive-VP/now-president Michael Petrilli traveled the country to rescue CCSS from possible repeal in legislative sessions nationwide– even if Fordham Institute itself rated the former state standards as equal to or better than the CCSS it had been paid to promote.
And now comes Finn with worries about a higher-ed dumb-down.
Ain’t that something.
Not once have I heard or read any inking from Fordham Institute that CCSS, with its “college and career ready” jingle, should have been field tested before it was actively and forcefully marketed to the public as that which would “ensure all students are ready for success after high school.”
For example, what if the idea of “college and career readiness” is more complex than test-score-driven “reformers” once thought? What if the rushed, so-called solutions of simply having states nix the remedial courses offered at four-year institutions of higher education and selling states on “common standards and assessments” only complicates the issue?
And what of unanticipated “market forces” kicking in at colleges and universities– such as creative adjustments to boost enrollments? What of colleges’ attempts to counter the loss of students once enrolled in those remedial courses and who, for whatever reason, have not attained that CCSS-ensured “readiness”?
Not to worry, though. The failure of CCSS promoters to research the ramifications of their “college ready” love will not harm the CCSS owners.
Yep. The license holders of CCSS, the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) are covered from being held liable if CCSS does not deliver on the “college and career readiness” that CCSS supposedly “ensures” according to its website.
When it comes to CCSS ownership liability, one can never be too careful, for one never knows exactly how those powerful market forces might shift–
–especially if one never bothers to research such matters in the first place.
As for Finn: His next post should be entitled, “How My Actions Contributed to the Cheapening of ‘College Educated.'”
Such a post is long overdue.
Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.
She also has her second book available on pre-order, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, due for publication June 12, 2015.