April 4, 2011
AFT Higher Education, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, has released a report encouraging higher education faculty members to get more involved in discussions of student learning and assessment. Entitled “Student Success in Higher Education,” the report is less remarkable for what it says than that the fact that it is AFT that is saying it.
In an article in Inside Higher Education this morning, Lawrence N. Gold (Director of AFT Higher Education) said the union has chosen to get directly involved “because “so much of what our people hear is off-course.” Notes the IHE article, “Among the flawed ideas, as Gold and AFT see them: calls for nationally standardized measures of student learning, for tying state funding to seriously flawed measures of graduation rates, and for significantly increasing the number of Americans with college credentials without sufficient concern for the quality of those degrees and certificates.”
Yes, those are certainly flawed ideas, but they do not represent the best of learning assessment. And it certainly is true that we will make little further progress at putting learning at the center of higher education and at using assessment to find out whether and what students are learning if we cannot draw more faculty into the discussion.