Is Our College Students Learning?

Everyone in Washington says they want to bring down the cost of college. But as Kevin Carey writes, throwing more money into tuition subsidies isn't going to make college affordable over the long run as long as we keep in place structural incentives for ever-higher costs, most notably the total absence of any measure of quality. Unfortunately, America's colleges and universities are very good at creating a situation where nobody can get any real sense of which schools are doing a good job of educating people and which aren't. Under the circumstances, it's no wonder you don't see any institutions trying to find innovative and more efficient ways to deliver services. After all, nobody knows what the numerator is in the productivity equation, so a cheaper school just looks less fancy and prestigious.

For further reading on this issue I'd recommend Ben Adler's Washington Monthly article on the higher ed lobby and any of the many writeups of Alan Kruger's research indicating that professional success of graduates of highly selective colleges is almost all selection effect with little value-added.