Higher education is being destroyed by the current practice of allowing the inventory (e.g., students) hire and fire faculty members. Students do this deplorable practice by filling out faculty evaluations (SETs) at the end of each semester. Much current research show that the easy way to satisfy students is to be nice and easy. Since many professors are forced by this performance measurement system to satisfy students (rather than educate them), higher education has become extremely dysfunctional from professors trying to manage SET scores. They know that merit pay, promotion, and other benefits are based upon the "best teachers" as determined by "satisfying students" through the SET scores.
Just as public companies use six accounting practices to manage earnings, professors use a number of techniques to maximize their SET scores:
1. Grade inflation.
2. Coursework deflation.
3. Friendly, likeable person.
4. Letting students determine grades and coursework requirements.
5. Giving classes "walks."
6. Take home exams, no exams, and easy exams.
7. Extra credit.
8. Retaking exam until they pass.
9. Working in groups.
The obvious result of this managing SET scores by so many professors is a form of "social promotion" in universities. This phenomenon is best described by the saying, especially at elite, private schools: "you pay your fees, you get your B's." Grade inflation is so bad that "social promotion" is prevalent at most universities. As tenure is eliminated, this destruction of higher education will accelerate.
Some school systems at the elementary and high school levels are ending this practice of automatically shifting of pupils up a class at the end of the academic year, even when they have failed to meet the standard for their grade. Promotion is being based upon standardized tests (i.e., Houston, Texas). If students fail, they are not promoted (Chicago).
Social promotion at colleges and
universities could be stopped at U.S. colleges and universities by using
standardized testing. Giving unqualified students college degrees must
be stopped. When undereducated and poorly educated students are not spotted
until the end of the senior year, it's too late to fix the students. State
legislators must create an internal control system of testing in order
to slow the deterioration in higher education. Professors can not be expected
to evaluate students critically when their job and future depend sorely
on students liking them. If you put the prisoners in charge of a prison,
soon the prison will be ran by the inmates.
for a Return to Academic Standards
Baker's Dozen Debating Arguments
Last Updated: April 26 1999