Lehigh University
Lehigh University

News

Selected Media Coverage: March 30, 2006

Classroom Ideas-Sparkers
04/01/2006 - Childhood Education (cir. 14,000)

El costo no importa
03/28/2006 - Rumbo de Austin (cir. 17,000)

Colleges pushed to prove worth
03/28/2006 - Philadelphia Inquirer, The (cir. 381,912)

Can Turkey bridge the gap between Islam and the West?
03/28/2006 - Christian Science Monitor, The (cir. 60,723)

Standardized tests
03/27/2006 - WCAU-TV (cir. )

ADHD: Behavioral, Educational, and Medication Interventions
03/01/2006 - Education Digest (cir. 45,000)


Classroom Ideas-Sparkers
04/01/2006 - Childhood Education (cir. 14,000)



Return to Top
Lynn Columba-Piervallo, associate professor, education and human services, wrote an article for Childhood Education magazine. For a complete view of the article, please click on the paperclip above.


El costo no importa
03/28/2006 - Rumbo de Austin (cir. 17,000)



Return to Top
Esther Gonzalez, associate director, admissions, was quoted in an article for Rumbo. For a complete view of the article, please click on the paperclip above. (Note: article is in Spanish.)


Colleges pushed to prove worth
03/28/2006 - Philadelphia Inquirer, The (cir. 381,912)



Return to Top
For at least half a century, leaders of the nation's colleges and universities have been touting U.S. higher education as by far the best in the world. Now, pressure is building to prove it. In not just conservative political circles but also the business community and the tuition-paying ranks of parents, a new and unmistakably skeptical view of the ivory tower has emerged. With it have come increasing calls for a way to hold colleges and universities accountable for the quality of education delivered to more than 17 million students. The most controversial method - one being seriously considered by a Bush Administration commission - is standardized testing.

It is already getting a trial run with small groups of students at more than 100 institutions nationwide, including Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. Given to college freshmen and seniors, the essay-based exam is supposed to measure critical thinking and communications skills. Even that limited experimentation alarms many academics, who contend that the wildly diverse programs and missions of nearly 4,000 institutions of higher learning - from the Ivies to community colleges - make standardized testing worthless. 'Every university is different. That's the great strength of our system,' said Graham Spanier, president of Pennsylvania State University. 'There's no national test that Penn State students could take that's going to help us educate them better or make us more accountable.' That argument has not swayed policymakers and business leaders worried that university systems in Asia and Europe are closing in fast, notably in engineering and science. 'Underlying all this is a growing suspicion that American higher education may not be as good as it ought to be, or as it thinks it is,' said Robert Zemsky, a professor of higher education at the University of Pennsylvania. Zemsky is one of 19 members on the federal commission that will make recommendations this fall on the 'future of higher education' to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. The panel, which held a public comment session in Seattle last month and a second one last week in Boston, put testing at the top of its agenda soon after it was created last September.

The chairman, Houston investment manager Charles Miller, is a leading proponent of standardized collegiate exams. 'The pressures for accountability are everywhere,' Miller, a former Bush-appointed leader of the University of Texas System Board of Regents, said in a recent interview. 'Evidence of the need to improve student learning is pretty clear.' He offered a litany of examples 'softening curricula,' 'grade inflation,' and insufficient literacy skills in half of all four-year college graduates, as detailed in a study funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts released in January. Meanwhile, annual tuition hikes are outpacing inflation. To his critic's ears, Miller's case for collegiate testing has a familiar ring. They say similar arguments were used to turn the No Child Left Behind program into a federal fiat, mandating extensive testing in secondary and elementary grades.

Miller, in fact, helped design a K-12 testing system in Texas for then-Gov. Bush that became the model for the federal program. Miller dismissed the comparison. The states, not Washington, should take the lead on collegiate testing by requiring it at public universities, he said. Once the big state systems prove its value, he predicted, testing will be swept by market demand into private schools. Also, unlike No Child Left Behind, federal funding would not be tied to test results, he said. Money, however, is undeniably part of the issue.

When the commission was formed, Spellings noted that the federal government provides a third of all higher-education funding and has a right to 'maximize' its investment. 'We're missing valuable information on how the system works today,' she said, 'and what can be improved.' That baffles some ivory tower habitues who see higher education as too preoccupied with self-examination and ranking. 'There is no enterprise in America that I know of that assesses itself so carefully and so frequently,' said Penn State's Spanier, calling it 'both a science and an obsession.' He cited the arduous reviews that faculty members endure to make tenure, the accreditation process, the student-satisfaction surveys, and the monitoring of graduates' efforts to get jobs. Better known to the public are the college comparisons made by popular publications such as U.S. News & World Report. Those rankings are based on such factors as faculty-to-student ratios, SAT scores, and alumni giving. But they say little, if anything, about how well students are learning in the classroom.

Can standardized testing fill in the blanks? That's what Lehigh University wanted to find out when it administered a standardized exam known as the Collegiate Learning Assessment for the first time last fall to abouhe parties,' says Henri Barkey, chairman of the international relations department at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. 'This doesn't bring results if you don't have that support, it makes you irrelevant.' It can also impact Turkey's interests, Professor Barkey says. 'There are a lot of congressmen who have been very supportive of Turkey but will now [after the Mashal visit] not lift a finger when something comes up that Turkey cares about,' he says. Adds Barkey 'I don't think anyone in Washington expects [Turkey] to downgrade trade relations with Iran or Syria. I don't think anyone faults the Turks for having better relations than we have with Iran or Syria.

But when there is an international consensus on something, that is a line that shouldn't be crossed.' Other critics suggest that while based on good intentions, Turkey's policy presumes other countries are acting in good faith, which may not be the case. 'It seems like a well-meaning policy but it fails when checked against the real politick of the Middle East,' says Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. 'The policy works so long as the other side needs Turkey.' But Bagci says events in the Middle East have left Turkey with few options other than to pursue a revised regional policy. 'The 21st century is going to be a new era where East and West try to understand each other in a different way and Turkey is a window of opportunity for the West to enter the Islamic world in a different way.'


Standardized tests
03/27/2006 - WCAU-TV (cir. )



Return to Top
Standardized tests could soon be a part of college life. A Federal Commission is looking at bringing standardized tests to colleges and universities to make them accountable for quality education. And some schools like Lehigh University are already serving as a test run. Critics say testing is worthless because of the wide variety of programs that each university offers.


ADHD: Behavioral, Educational, and Medication Interventions
03/01/2006 - Education Digest (cir. 45,000)



Return to Top
George DuPaul, professor, education and human services, and George White, professor, education and human services, co-authored an article for Education Digest magazine. For a complete view of the article, please click on the paperclip above.



Posted on Thursday, March 30, 2006

share this story: