Press Releases | General Education

ACTA Releases Assessment Guide for Trustees

‘Are They Learning?’ Provides Governing Boards with a Roadmap to Ensure Students are Graduating with Substantial Learning Gains
February 5, 2013

Washington, DC—During a time of soaring tuition costs and low employer satisfaction with the caliber of college graduates, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni has released a guide for trustees to ensure students are getting an education, not just a diploma.

“Are They Learning?” demonstrates the importance of ensuring the significant cognitive growth of college students.  It advises colleges and universities that if they do not find ways to measure core collegiate skills objectively and accurately, they are doing a great disservice to students and the public.

“It’s crucial that colleges and universities be able to show that students are getting the true education they deserve and employers require,” said Anne Neal, ACTA president. “This guide is a resource for trustees to help them implement these measures on their campus.”

The evidence of the lack of cognitive growth speaks for itself.  A study of more than 2,300 college students released by Professors Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa found that nearly half (45%) of students surveyed showed no significant intellectual gains after two years of college. Additionally, more than a third (36%) showed no significant improvement, even after all four years.

A separate study by the U.S. Department of Education found that most college graduates fall below proficiency in verbal and quantitative literacy, meaning they cannot reliably answer questions comparing the viewpoints of two editorials or the cost per ounce of food items.

“What passes for an education on too many college campuses today is simply inadequate,” said Michael Poliakoff, ACTA vice president of policy. “These students deserve and need a more substantial college education, and trustees must have valid and reliable ways to measure those gains.”

“Are They Learning?” was released by ACTA’s Institute for Effective Governance. The full text is available on the ACTA website.


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