Education

University Systems May Soon be Graded

At a meeting in its headquarters in Paris last month, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released a study on whether it would be possible to test what students around the world actually learn in colleges and universities. In November, the organization will decide whether to press ahead with the new system, Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes, or Ahelo.
July 22, 2013
 

Depending on whom you ask, a proposed new international testing system will either be the next big thing in higher education or a pointless, expensive rankings exercise that will be used to criticize faculty at hard-pressed colleges and universities.

At a meeting in its headquarters in Paris last month, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released a study on whether it would be possible to test what students around the world actually learn in colleges and universities. In November, the organization will decide whether to press ahead with the new system, Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes, or Ahelo.

For Andreas Schleicher, the O.E.C.D.’s chief education adviser, the new system is the obvious follow-up to the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, an influential exam that tests 15-year-olds around the world in mathematics, science and reading every three years.

The most recent results, from the 2009 test, pleased Shanghai, South Korea and Finland, which were at the top of the tables, and caused hand-wringing in countries like the United States, which ranked considerably further down.

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