Posted by: crudbasher | August 20, 2010

Why Assessment is the Real Problem with Education

Here’s a little experiment for you.

You are hiring for a position at your company.  You have 50 candidates apply. So which one do you hire?

Wait, wait wait you say, I need to reduce the field first. See here is the problem.  How do you do that?  If all you go by is what school they went to, then we are treating people as a homogonous commodity.  It really doesn’t tell you how good these people are or if they are a good fit in your business.

Do you give preference to people who came from Harvard?  How about University of Central Florida? How about University of Northern Iowa?

My answer to this would be to find a better form of assessment.  I would look at their work before I looked at their school.

As I see it, Education also has this problem.  We are using standardized tests for overall assessments.  Then businesses use the overall degree and where you got it from as another assessment.  These are both very blunt tools.  They really don’t do a very good job of figuring out what the person really can do and would they fit into a company well.  In fact, think about the yearly evaluation your employer does for you. Does that really capture what you have done in the previous year?  We have a failure of assessment in our society.  This is also I think why so many people are unhappy in their jobs.  They are not a good fit.

I think ePortfolios are going to be the future of assessment.  Each of us will have our work online from a very early age.  (and yes, fingerpainting can tell people about our natural talents and aptitudes). We will then be able to share our some or all of our work with potential employers.

With this in mind, check out the ePortfolio of this 6 year old I just came across.  Especially watch the little video she made with Xtranormal. Awesome!

What sparked this train of thought is this article talking about the Higher Education bubble.  The author is making the case that students are going to certain schools with a name and reputation, because that is all businesses care about.  I think this is true to a certain extent.

I also know college can’t keep getting more expensive at the rate it is going.  At some point thing will pop.

  • Good look at a cause of the college bubble

    tags: education bubble highered

    • A recent New York Times op-ed points out that even as Americans can’t pay their bills, struggle to find work, and live in cities too poor to light the streets, American colleges and universities are raising tuition and launching huge expansion plans.

      I’m calling it the education bubble.

    • What’s caused this bubble? Companies that are lousy at predicting who will be good at their job. In many cases, we rely on brand association to do the critical thinking for us.
    • In the education bubble, we think that we or our families are at a disadvantage if we don’t play this game of chasing education brand affiliations (i.e., degrees and schools).
    • As long as hiring managers are as enchanted by the educational brands as the rest of us, the bubble will grow.
    • So what do we do about this bubble?

      Managers at companies need to create a new obsession: finding and unleashing talent and passion in positions uniquely created for individuals.

    • In many cases, the most brilliant people don’t have the “right” educational brand affiliations but, in the end, make better leaders because they don’t feel entitled.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.



  1. Three thoughts:
    1. Your idea of the “blunt tool” as a way to visualize the current inefficiency is terrific. There is probably a way to “animate” your argument.
    2. I encouraged my own children to pursue degrees from “name” colleges, because I knew that it would give them an edge…and possibly a really huge edge…and I am pretty sure that it has…especially for my daughter.
    3. There is also the “connection” issue with all colleges. They have alums already in places of power willing to give preference to graduates from their alma maters. Students may profit from going to a school with powerful connections in their chosen path…I think those potential “connections” are part of what students are paying for.

    • Hi Margaret, I’m honored you stopped by! I don’t disagree that going to a “name” school isn’t a good idea. I just don’t think that system will be able to continue to increase in price as fast as it is. About point #3, do you think that these connections from school will be replaced by social networks instead?

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