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Old 08-26-2013, 02:37 AM   #1
rapier7
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Standardized Test For Employability

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...Tabs%3Darticle

I don't know whether you guys can see it or not, so here's the main points:

1. 200 colleges plan on offering a standardized CLA (Collegiate Learning Assessment) exam, graded on a 1600 point scale (similar to the SATs) that will measure critical thinking skills.

2. The test is tailored as a general skills test and is explicitly aiming at getting buy-in from employers.

3. This test was created in response to grade inflation at colleges. GPAs have risen steadily over time even as employers feel like college graduates are becoming less employable.

I am all for this. If the test is designed effectively, it can be a way to bypass the credentialism of a college degree (by replacing it with a standardized credential).

The problem is a lot of employers are using college degrees as shortcuts and cutoffs for their positions. But because quality varies from college to college (and major to major) it becomes hard to tell whether a person is really employable or not.

Personally, I like it. In fact, if you design the test well enough, it could become a replacement for college. There are some people who are ready to work right out of high school. Some people coast through college and never get ready to be part of the real world. A college degree shouldn't be a determining factor for whether a person is considered for the vast majority of jobs out there.
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Old 08-26-2013, 07:18 AM   #2
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Good method. This should weed out the BS and place a stronger emphasis on quality and would hopefully challenge students to make better decisions.
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Old 08-26-2013, 09:22 AM   #3
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I like the idea, nothing worse than a 4.0 "sociology" major
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Old 08-26-2013, 09:28 AM   #4
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I like the idea, nothing worse than a 4.0 "sociology" major


Hopefully it incorporates math and some basic finance.
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Old 08-26-2013, 11:37 AM   #5
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This is a great start, but they need to start making homework and tests more realistic. That's exactly what my grad program did. Our homework was not "Answer 1, 2, 3." If we did that, even if our work was perfect, we'd get an F on the assignment.

We had to turn in our homework as executive summaries, explained in a way that any person can understand with the information in the right places so that whoever is going to be making the decision can access it quickly without going through all of the junk that we did to get there. If we explained too much, we got marked off. If we didn't explain enough, we got marked off. If our math was wrong, we got especially marked off.

The HW we had was sometimes synthetically generated, but most of the time was from problems that professors had in their consulting careers in the past. We'd solve the problem in the way that we thought was right, then they showed us what their answers were. In addition to our grade on the assignment or project, we could see where we either did worse or better than the professor.

I found that when I entered the real world, I was adequately prepared, knew how to write the reports people needed, and could communicate it pretty well. Of course I am still learning, but I feel much better than some of my peers who just entered the industry.

Colleges need to start moving away from the traditional methods and start using more realistic methods. Less tests, more realistic homework, more teamwork, more cumulative studying.

Theory is not the same as practice. Theory helps you know exactly what's going on, but when you receive weird problems that don't follow any of the theory, you need to learn how to handle it. College needs more actual practice.

Unfortunately whenever anyone suggests or tries a radical change in the traditional curriculum, it's met with extreme amounts of resistance. Colleges move very slowly to change things academically.

I can't say the same about engineering students though. They do get a whole lot of real-world experience in their years, which is great. They do co-ops and all that jazz to really help them gain a serious edge after graduation. Our engineering program, in general, is extremely well done. I wish more curriculums were modeled after it.
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Old 08-26-2013, 12:01 PM   #6
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This is a great start, but they need to start making homework and tests more realistic. That's exactly what my grad program did. Our homework was not "Answer 1, 2, 3." If we did that, even if our work was perfect, we'd get an F on the assignment.

We had to turn in our homework as executive summaries, explained in a way that any person can understand with the information in the right places so that whoever is going to be making the decision can access it quickly without going through all of the junk that we did to get there. If we explained too much, we got marked off. If we didn't explain enough, we got marked off. If our math was wrong, we got especially marked off.

The HW we had was sometimes synthetically generated, but most of the time was from problems that professors had in their consulting careers in the past. We'd solve the problem in the way that we thought was right, then they showed us what their answers were. In addition to our grade on the assignment or project, we could see where we either did worse or better than the professor.

I found that when I entered the real world, I was adequately prepared, knew how to write the reports people needed, and could communicate it pretty well. Of course I am still learning, but I feel much better than some of my peers who just entered the industry.

Colleges need to start moving away from the traditional methods and start using more realistic methods. Less tests, more realistic homework, more teamwork, more cumulative studying.

Theory is not the same as practice. Theory helps you know exactly what's going on, but when you receive weird problems that don't follow any of the theory, you need to learn how to handle it. College needs more actual practice.

Unfortunately whenever anyone suggests or tries a radical change in the traditional curriculum, it's met with extreme amounts of resistance. Colleges move very slowly to change things academically.
I found in a lot my classes with small bodies of students, the professors focused more on application and discussion. Lab reports were intense and team projects had a higher perentage to the overall course grade. Tests and quizzes usually accounted for 40% or less of the final grade. Being able to apply what you learned was far more useful than memory retention. Our teams at times also had to undertake a specific topic or test method, learn it inside and out, and then teach our peers how to repeat the method. I may have had 1 class with a large body of students, but almost all of my STEM classes had labs. Practicality and usability are key.

We were also encouraged and undertook or assisted projects to better a community, a business, or the government.
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Old 08-26-2013, 12:43 PM   #7
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I have never scored below the 99th percentile in any national-level standardized test I have ever taken (many years ago, but still...). I am basically unemployable.
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Old 08-26-2013, 12:57 PM   #8
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I have never scored below the 99th percentile in any national-level standardized test I have ever taken (many years ago, but still...). I am basically unemployable.
How do you know you are unemployable?
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Old 08-26-2013, 02:30 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by rapier7 View Post
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...Tabs%3Darticle

I don't know whether you guys can see it or not, so here's the main points:

1. 200 colleges plan on offering a standardized CLA (Collegiate Learning Assessment) exam, graded on a 1600 point scale (similar to the SATs) that will measure critical thinking skills.

2. The test is tailored as a general skills test and is explicitly aiming at getting buy-in from employers.

3. This test was created in response to grade inflation at colleges. GPAs have risen steadily over time even as employers feel like college graduates are becoming less employable.

I am all for this. If the test is designed effectively, it can be a way to bypass the credentialism of a college degree (by replacing it with a standardized credential).

The problem is a lot of employers are using college degrees as shortcuts and cutoffs for their positions. But because quality varies from college to college (and major to major) it becomes hard to tell whether a person is really employable or not.

Personally, I like it. In fact, if you design the test well enough, it could become a replacement for college. There are some people who are ready to work right out of high school. Some people coast through college and never get ready to be part of the real world. A college degree shouldn't be a determining factor for whether a person is considered for the vast majority of jobs out there.
Eh, sounds like fluff to me. A Harvard grad that just barely skated by will still do better in the marketplace than a Queens College grad with a 4.0.
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Old 08-26-2013, 03:50 PM   #10
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How do you know you are unemployable?
You obviously haven't been following my posts very closely.

I keed, I keed. I'm mostly unemployable because I've been working for myself for so long that I think I'd be a miserable failure in the typical corporate setting now.
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Old 08-26-2013, 05:50 PM   #11
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You obviously haven't been following my posts very closely.

I keed, I keed. I'm mostly unemployable because I've been working for myself for so long that I think I'd be a miserable failure in the typical corporate setting now.
I can relate.

I have developed a serious case of MFS (Middle Finger Syndrome). I tried a corporate gig a couple of years ago. I took that shlt for a year before I walked out.

I'm proud that I made it that long.
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Old 08-26-2013, 06:24 PM   #12
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I can relate.

I have developed a serious case of MFS (Middle Finger Syndrome). I tried a corporate gig a couple of years ago. I took that shlt for a year before I walked out.

I'm proud that I made it that long.
You are one highly arrogant human being. No offense, but if I had to work with somebody like you, I'd voluntarily leave.

You're no better than the highly-paid CEO who only cares about the short term health of a company.
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Old 08-26-2013, 06:29 PM   #13
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You are one highly arrogant human being. No offense, but if I had to work with somebody like you, I'd voluntarily leave.


Arrogant? Nah, just experienced.
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Old 08-26-2013, 06:33 PM   #14
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Arrogant? Nah, just experienced.
You never offer up solutions or even one positive experience. It's always F that guy, peace, I'm out. In a world full of issues, that helps nobody.
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Old 08-26-2013, 07:43 PM   #15
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You never offer up solutions or even one positive experience. It's always F that guy, peace, I'm out. In a world full of issues, that helps nobody.


I'll work on that.
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Old 08-26-2013, 07:46 PM   #16
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You never offer up solutions or even one positive experience. It's always F that guy, peace, I'm out. In a world full of issues, that helps nobody.
Not every problem has a solution. Some problems can only be managed. My contribution for the day.
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Old 08-26-2013, 11:32 PM   #17
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Not every problem has a solution. Some problems can only be managed. My contribution for the day.
Eh, depends on what angle you're looking from.
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Old 08-27-2013, 01:12 PM   #18
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The problem is a lot of employers are using college degrees as shortcuts and cutoffs for their positions. But because quality varies from college to college (and major to major) it becomes hard to tell whether a person is really employable or not.
Some employers may be lazy but they're not hiring a person on the spot because they have X degree from Y school. A degree is one of multiple variables used to help narrow down a pool of candidates. Ultimately the candidates that pass said checkpoints are later screened under more scrutinizing conditions (i.e., interviews).

The CLA is a shortcut in and of itself.
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Old 08-27-2013, 01:29 PM   #19
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Some employers may be lazy but they're not hiring a person on the spot because they have X degree from Y school. A degree is one of multiple variables used to help narrow down a pool of candidates. Ultimately the candidates that pass said checkpoints are later screened under more scrutinizing conditions (i.e., interviews).

The CLA is a shortcut in and of itself.
Screened for big t!ts and likeability. If you no one wants to drink a beer or golf with you after work, you're not hired.
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Old 08-27-2013, 01:48 PM   #20
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Some employers may be lazy but they're not hiring a person on the spot because they have X degree from Y school. A degree is one of multiple variables used to help narrow down a pool of candidates. Ultimately the candidates that pass said checkpoints are later screened under more scrutinizing conditions (i.e., interviews).

The CLA is a shortcut in and of itself.
That's exactly the issue. They won't hire on the spot, but just getting your foot in the door requires a degree from a "good" school. For most people, that means tens of thousands of dollars (if not low six figures), 4 years of additional "study", and a vast amount of misallocated wealth.

A certification process that employers trust to show candidates to be articulate, capable of critical thinking, and have all the basic skills necessary to function in an office environment would be much better for the economy as a whole.
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