I must say, I'm glad I'm graduating college when I am. For one, financial aid has been cut and interest rates raised in the recent Bush budget. Now, a commission appointed by the Secretary of Education wants college students to be subjected to a nationwide standardized test. As if we don't have enough tests already. This is all in an effort to require "more accountability from higher education." In today's Republican climes, everything must be held accountable except Republicans in Congress, the White House, and their friends in the private sector.
A nationwide standardized test is a strange way to demand accountability. For one, it goes against the whole university system, which directs students to become specialized in an area or two. Writing and reasoning skills are of course taught in all areas of study, but these are tested enough through college midterms and finals.
If the administration wants to improve higher education, they need to first figure out what they want to improve about it. Rather than sit in their offices in D.C. and talk about the need for "accountability," they should go on a fact-finding mission to a cross-section of colleges--public, private, community. I fear though that in today's climate of sham "academic freedom" bills, even that process would be politicized.
The people on the higher education commission are worried about literacy and under-performance from college graduates, but these are skills that are learned well before college. We need to re-invest in public schools in this country, where children internalize the skills that they will keep with them for the rest of their academic careers. Enough with commissions and standardized testing.