Federal Report Calls For Change at American Colleges
> 8/14/2006 3:48:08 PM

The latest report from the federal Commission on the Future of Higher Education, organized by Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, points out several broad areas of difficulty among our country's college system, often offering equally general solutions. The report, available on the organization's web site, argues that, as prices quickly increase and our college attendance rates begin to stagnate, the country is not performing as it should to provide post-secondary school opportunities for every citizen. Among their suggestions are expanded high school preparatory courses and standardized testing to measure trends in student performance across the board.

While all agree, in principle, that more American students should leave college prepared for the ever-changing work force, A recent New York Times article highlights some of the critical voices which emerged around the report. A number of university leaders scoffed at the idea of increased testing and federal oversight. Others noted that the report largely excludes postgraduate study. Still, particpants did reach larger agreements:

All the panel members who participated in a meeting on Thursday at the Education Department headquarters here expressed unanimity on some points, including that the report correctly identified critical challenges like increasing access to higher education for poor students and holding institutions more accountable for students who drop out or graduate with few skills... One recommendation that won broad support was for changing immigration laws to help foreign scientists who graduate from American universities obtain green cards.

While some question whether certain aspects of the report could compromise the privacy of institutions by tracking the success of their students in a national database, others argue that increased levels of federal intervention could help prevent negative trends in higher education. The report has been approved by the committe, and a true measure of its success can only come with implementation of its policies.

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