About Me

In writing the "About Me" portion of this blog I thought about the purpose of the blog - namely, preventing the growth of Socialism & stopping the Death Of Democracy in the American Republic & returning her to the "liberty to abundance" stage of our history. One word descriptions of people's philosophies or purposes are quite often inadequate. I feel that I am "liberal" meaning that I am broad minded, independent, generous, hospitable, & magnanimous. Under these terms "liberal" is a perfectly good word that has been corrupted over the years to mean the person is a left-winger or as Mark Levin more accurately wrote in his book "Liberty & Tyranny" a "statist" - someone looking for government or state control of society. I am certainly not that & have dedicated the blog to fighting this. I believe that I find what I am when I consider whether or not I am a "conservative" & specifically when I ask what is it that I am trying to conserve? It is the libertarian principles that America was founded upon & originally followed. That is the Return To Excellence that this blog is named for & is all about.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Analysis Of College Ranking Surveys Reveals Double Barrel Undermining Of America

"With all its flaws and its harmful impact on college behavior, why is anyone still paying attention to these college rankings?" – from a posting by Lynn O'Shaughnessy writing for CBS/MoneyWatch shortly after U.S. News & World Report (U.S. News hereinafter) released their annual college rankings of 1,800 colleges @ midnight on September 10.

"Is there anything better out there?" – comment responding to the MoneyWatch posting

click on table to enlarge

Of course readers of RTE know there is something "better out there" & it has been the subject of many posts over the years – it is the ACTA WhatWillTheyLearn project that involved years of research that resulted in college students who used the ACTA resource saving thousands of tuition dollars while getting a better education than they ordinarily would have.

If you know someone who is considering going to college, & this is important to you, I suggest studying this post closely – I will compare vis-a-vis the U.S. News college rankings to those of the ACTA project.

The top five U.S. News schools (with ACTA grades for each school & lists of key subjects students never have to take & still can graduate per ACTA's analysis) for 2013 are:

1. Princeton – graded "C" - courses not required for graduation - literature, U.S. history, economics, & math.

2. Harvard – graded "D" – courses not required for graduation - literature, foreign language, U.S. history, economics, & math.

3. Yale – graded "D" -   courses not required for graduation - composition, literature, U.S. history, economics, & math.

4. Columbia – graded "B" -   courses not required for graduation - U.S. history, economics, & math.

5. Stanford – graded "C" - courses not required for graduation - literature, foreign language, U.S. history, & economics.

The U.S. News criterion 1) does not reward schools that graduate students who find solid employment (in fact, U.S. News doesn't even ask about employment success), 2) fixates on how selective a school is by focusing on the academic caliber of a school's freshmen with no follow up to what happens in subsequent years, 3) concentrates on the subjective area of what people think about the school's reputation including academic peer assessment judging faculty dedication to teaching, & 4) awards brownie points for money spent on beautiful campuses, modern student unions, & athletic shrines to sports heroes. 

The U.S. News criterion is soft especially when you compare it to ACTA's grading system that is based solely on what students are required to take & pass in order to graduate. 

ACTA's grading of schools is focused on seven key areas of knowledge (composition, literature, foreign language, U.S. history, economics, math, & science) so that students & parents will know what graduates will be well versed in outside their majors.  For a school to be graded "A" by ACTA, in addition to courses in their major, students are required to take & pass @ least six of the above subjects in order to graduate.  Just look @ the above list of top five schools & the subjects that are not required in order to graduate.   Only people in the "good ole boys" network would pay over $40,000 per year in tuition for a degree where the graduate never took a college algebra course or was awarded an English degree & yet never read a play by the Bard while in college. 

Now the (dis)favor is returned in that U.S. News does not rank the ACTA "A" schools particularly high either.  For instance Pepperdine, University of Georgia, & Baylor are three of ACTA's "A" graded schools & U.S. News ranks these schools #57, #60, & # 75 respectively in their survey of 1,800 schools. 

Other ACTA graded "A" schools were the University of Dallas – ranked #13 amoung 121 regional west universities by U.S. News; Thomas Aquinas College – ranked #135 in regional colleges north; & the U.S. Military Academy ranked #17 in the limited category of national liberal arts.  Many other ACTA "A" schools were unranked by U.S. News. 

Although some ACTA "A" schools have high tuitions there are many like CUNY Brooklyn College & California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo where the tuition is less than a third to half the price of the U.S. News top schools.  At Cal Poly undergraduate students can choose from almost 70 majors, with engineering programs being the most popular choice. There are more than 80 state-of-the-art laboratories and 50 clubs dedicated specifically to the Cal Poly College of Engineering so a graduate will have an engineering degree & in order to have graduated will also have passed courses in composition, literature, U.S. history, economics, & naturally both math & science.

Parents & students don't have to just focus on the eighteen schools (out of the 1,000 evaluated) that ACTA has graded "A" – there are many fine schools graded "B" but the point is by using the ACTA website resource you can work to find the ones that meet your needs & when you do you will know what your money is going to buy regarding subject material & ultimately what will be learned.

Although this post clearly shows that the ACTA program is far superior & more useful than the U.S. News program in selecting a college please do not think that this post is only about contrasting the two surveys or that I am part of the mindset that believes everyone should go to college.  (Nearly half of Americans who matriculate into four-year schools do not graduate thereby placing the U.S. behind nearly every major industrialized country when it comes to rates of college completion.  Source – OECD)

I do believe that everyone has to make their own way & living in the world without being a burden on others (regardless of educational level obtained) & that this should cumulatively lead to a higher standard of living for mankind – graduating from college with a professional degree is one great way to accomplish these twin goals.

The problem is that people are graduating from many colleges today who don't know anything useful thanks to grade inflation & the diluted course curriculums discussed above.  There are three times more "A"s given today than in 1940.  There are tests now being given by employers for graduates to prove what they know about their major – these tests are required because employers do not trust just the sheepskin any longer – an insult to academia in & of itself.  Caterpillar & Microsoft are two employers who cannot find enough Americans with the skills they need @ any education level.

Please look @ the above table of test scores & note the corner of the world where the top five countries in both math & science are located.  These types of results not only indicate that Americans are not well prepared or suited to compete in the global economy @ a high level but they also provide a good insight into the country's economic deterioration.  This point has repeatedly been presented on RTE & is the first of two barrels that my analysis of the two academic surveys fire.

The second barrel is more insidious & sinister in undermining America because it does not affect your economic well being as directly or as initially noticeable as the firing of the first barrel does – the second barrel is the consistent thread that U.S. history is not required by so many colleges - like all of the top five U.S. News schools listed above.

But the problem goes deeper - college graduates aged 21 to 34 did very poorly on the ACTA history test I posted on August 26 meaning not only is U.S. history not being taught in college it is not being taught @ the most rudimentary level in K through 12 either.   You can conclude that tradesmen & others with no more than a high school education will not know the basics of U.S. history any better than college graduates do – this is an extremely dangerous position for a country wanting to survive to be in.  A country whose people are unfamiliar with its heritage is not going to be around long – @ least not in its current form. 

Ever wonder how this happened?


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