Next spring, seniors at about 200 U.S. colleges will take a new test that could prove more important to their future than final exams: an SAT-like assessment that aims to cut through grade-point averages and judge students' real value to employers.
The test, called the Collegiate Learning Assessment, "provides an objective, benchmarked report card for critical thinking skills," said David Pate, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at St. John Fisher College, a small liberal-arts school near Rochester, N.Y. "The students will be able to use it to go out and market themselves."
The test is part of a movement to find new ways to assess the skills of graduates. Employers say grades can be misleading and that they have grown skeptical of college credentials.
It was once the case that employers could generally use IQ tests to screen employees, if said employers so desired. Now, general testing is pretty much considered discriminatory (read: illegal), and the only testing employers can do is testing geared to assess an applicant’s work-related aptitudes (for example, Sears could potential cashiers a math test, but could not necessarily give the same test to a stock boy, unless Sears first showed that math was a crucial need for working in the stock room). Of course, employers paid for the tests they administered.
The difference between then and now is that employers no longer pay for IQ tests, the applicants do, and the tests aren’t IQ tests per se. (Oh, and the applicants provide the scores “voluntarily,” since employers would be remiss to ask for an IQ score, I mean SAT-like assessment test.) Other than that, some employers are looking for highly intelligent workers and have no problem use test assessments to determine a candidate’s worthiness. I guess the regulatory system just can’t counteract human nature and market forces.
I do wonder, though, how long it takes some enterprising students to figure out a way to skip college and take the CLA. Then I wonder how long it will take for everyone to realize that the CLA exam is probably a waste of time, and that good old-fashioned SAT scores work just fine. Then I wonder how much longer it’s going to take for the education bubble to pop once everyone realizes that college is a clusterfuck, and a poor substitute for IQ scores as a means of demonstrating intelligence. Honestly, I can’t wait to see how this plays out.