Assessing Basic Academic Skills in Higher Education: The Texas Approach

By Richard T. Alpert; William Phillip Gorth et al. | Go to book overview

The Role of Basic Academic Skills Development in the Reform of Education

Theodore J. Marchese

My goal in this presentation is to set the concern for basic skills development in the larger context of the assessment movement and the movement to reform and empower American education. First let me say that the assessment movement is alive and may be all too well. By our count at the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE), about forty states are now working on something called assessment. As well, about ten states are implementing formal mandates, and at least thirty other states will soon be doing so. The most recent activity is in New York, which has been one of the holdouts until now. I am also happy to say that in the last two or three years hundreds of institutions have gotten into the assessment movement. We now enjoy a certain amount of institutional experience with assessment issues that we did not have back in 1985 when this all started.

As far as the larger educational reform movement is concerned, most of the action in that, as in assessment, is not going on in Washington; it is going on in statehouses. An incredible number of things are happening now in state after state.

My focus here, though, is on the basic skills development effort. And my text is inspired by the presentation of Dr. Charles Pine (see page 63) on the New Jersey Algebra Project. I think that Charles Pine is an authentic American hero. If we had a thousand Charles Pines we would have far fewer problems in education. He gets in there, makes a commitment, and does something about it. He is sort of the John Madden of American higher education. Dr. Pine's work leads me to the following comments.

Theodore J. Marchese is vice president of the American Association for Higher Education and executive editor of Change magazine.

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