The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that beginning next spring graduating seniors at some 200 colleges will begin taking a new test to see exactly what they've learned in school.
The Collegiate Learning Assessment test was developed by the nonprofit Council for Aid to Education and aims to be a tool to let potential employers know what skills graduates truly bring to a new job.
The Journal story implies that companies are growing more skeptical about just what a college degree represents. Grade-point averages have been increasing dramatically, but many employers apparently feel they bear no relationship to real-world job skills.
Additionally, there is a feeling among some that grades do not necessarily mean what they used to mean. The story points out that the percentage of A's given by college professors nearly tripled between 1940 and 2008.
The CLA test will be open to anyone who wants to take it, not just the 200 or so colleges that have signed up to give it to all their graduating students. The cost is $35 and students who take it will be allowed to show their test scores to prospective employers.
It is too bad that companies have such a mistrust of education that it would spark the creation of a test like CLA. It also points out the value of programs like UH-Maui's just announced "Teaching Hotel," where students will have the opportunity to run their own resort.
The Hospitality Academy of Maui (featured in a Maui News story Sunday) will give students the "hands-on" experience future employers in the visitor industry are looking for.
This is the type of program - mixing the practical with the academic - that will renew companies' trust in our educational institutions.
(Guest editorials will be appearing in this spot for the next few days as we go in for a medical tune-up.)
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.