Econintersect: CAE (Council for Aid to Education, an independent national non-profit organization) has developed a test that will determine with a course grade independent examination what level of skills a graduate has obtained in college. So far about 200 colleges and universities are offering the College Learning Assessment Plus (CLA+) exam to graduating seniors.
The CLA+ exam is designed to test how well graduating students can perform real world analysis, problem solving and critical thinking tasks, as well as how well they can summarize and communicate their results. From the CAE website:
CLA+ relies on prompts that require students to perform. We stress the need for students to exhibit that they have the skills not just the knowledge to succeed.
When taking the CLA+ students complete both a Performance Task and a series of Selected-Response Questions.
The Performance Task presents a real-world situation in which an issue, problem, or conflict is identified. Students are asked to assume a relevant role to address the issue, suggest a solution, or recommend a course of action based on the information provided in a document library. A full CLA+ Performance Task contains four to nine documents in the library, and students have 60 minutes to complete the task. The Document Library contains a variety of reference sources such as technical reports, data tables, newspaper articles, office memoranda, or emails.
In the Selected-Response section, students respond to 25 questions: 10 assess scientific and quantitative reasoning; 10 assess critical reading and evaluation; and 5 assess the students' ability to critique an argument. Students complete this section within 30 minutes. Much like the Performance Task, each set of questions requires that students draw information from accompanying documents.
The CLA+ examination has been produced after years of use of CAE College Learning Assessment (CLA) programs by more than 700 institutions globally. CAE CLA programs have been used by these institutions to benchmark the value-added by them compared to others.
The CLA+ is a specific formalization of the years of experience with test results made available to stidents who can use the resulsts as part of their resume if they wish.
It seems likely that the CLA+ exam results could become a central consideration in hiring of new college graduates or of recent graduates who have been underemployed and are trying to get a career start in the field(s) that they studied.
Comment: Knowledge is not as important as what one can do with knowledge.
Council for Aid to Education (CAE website homepage)
Performance Assessment: Home (CAE website)
Performance Assessment: CLA+ Overview (CAE website)
New test aims to benchmark skills of U.S. college graduates (Daniel Lovering, Reuters, 26 August 2013)