Developing common rubrics for student learning assessments certainly is a noble idea, especially with higher education increasingly coming under scrutiny for high tuition and poor job prospects for students. If higher education has a “common” standards rubric, perhaps institutions will be better able to prove their merit by holding students better accountable for what’s considered to be “quality” work.

This approach also differs from the CCSS in that it’s piloting the standards to measure their effectiveness–a step the K-12 Common Core standards didn’t take, ultimately making states wary on their true effectiveness.

However, the problem becomes standardization. Do all institutions have the same philosophy when it comes to student work? For example, would MIT understand an essay relating computer science to the novel 1984, and on the other end of the spectrum, would Kenyon College understand an experiment designed to see if new engineering methods affected students social-emotional moods?

In theory, both highly-regarded institutions have similar expectations for depth and quality of student work. However, it’s the campus culture, expertise of selected staff, and nuance of work favored by both institutions that make one more suited for ELA and one for STEM.

In other words, if all higher ed institutions can simply submit student work into a program to be graded, do institutions still have an identity?

And, in the current economic climate, should institutions retain identities, or is it more practical to have institutions as career factories?

For more information, see VALUE and Multi-State Collaborative on Learning Outcomes Assessment.