What if we ranked hospitals by the number of relatively healthy patients they admitted instead of how well they improved the health of sick people? What if we devoted more resources to making “sort of” sick people well, and fewer resources to healing “really sick” people? Would anyone think those were good measures of an effective health care system?
Alexander Astin repeatedly compares education to health care in Are You Smart Enough?, a frank and provocative inspection of how colleges view their role of education and how those decisions impact students and the colleges themselves. His basic thesis is this: colleges place their value in the smartness of their students, not in developing or growing them as learners. While he uses the language and narrative of post-secondary education, much of what he argues is equally applicable to K-12.
I won’t reprise all of his arguments and data here; they are extensive, from assessment strategies to admissions policies and critical issues of equity. I certainly will be using this book as a resource for my own new book as I explore how we overcome the enormous obstacles of inauthentic high school assessments and the college admissions process.