Should Colleges Offer Proof of Student Accomplishment, Not Just Courses and Grades?

POLITICS & POLICY

A major, unintended consequence of the way America has oversold higher education is that degrees no longer betoken much learning or achievement. To maximize the number of paying customers, most colleges and universities have watered down the curriculum and allowed (even encouraged) faculty members to inflate grades. And this is while the cost of attending has gone up, up, up.

In today’s Martin Center article, Michael J. Pearce, founder of The Representational Art Conference, looks at this sad state of affairs and suggests a solution.

Pearce writes that, “Over the last decade, the number of Americans with a bachelor’s degree or higher has increased from 31 percent to 39 percent. The problem is that college is getting easier, not that our students are getting smarter. ‘GPAs have been rising due to relaxed standards. These relaxed standards account for much of the increase in college graduation rates,’ Jeffrey T. Denning of Brigham Young University writes in an NBER working paper on college completion rates. ‘We find that student characteristics, institutional resources, and institution attended explain little of the change in graduation rates.’”

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