A Means A: Solving the problem of unbundled credentialing

A Means A: Solving the problem of unbundled credentialing

I am suspicious of any idea posted on econlib.org, to say the least. I mean really suspicious.

But this is an interesting point a poster there is making — we need to come up with a hybrid solution to credentialing.

Why? Well, unbundled credentialing tends to lead to teaching to the test, and ultimately narrows curriculum, as we have seen (in spades) in the K-12 space in America.

Bundled credentialing, on the other hand, tends to get a bit incestuous over time — “Of course our students are competent, they get an average grade of B+!”, etc.  

The solution, says this guy, is to use a third party agency to “Test to the teaching”:

One solution might be an independent assessment center that is sort of a cross between the Advanced Placement testing system and Swarthmore College’s outside examiners. Like the AP tests, it would use a rigorous grading system that people could trust. Like the Swarthmore system, the examiners would show some flexibility in adapting to any course syllabus, so that the syllabus and the curriculum would come from the bottom up (teachers and students) rather than from the top down (the rigid curriculum of the AP folks).*

(*What if a teacher of, say, organic chemistry, offers a dumbed-down course that omits a number of difficult topics? The folks at A Means A would write an exam and give a grade based on the curriculum, but they would also report that the curriculum failed to cover topics that ordinarily are covered in organic chemistry.)

There’s a number of problems with this, certainly, but it represents better thought about the unbundling of credentialing than I often see elsewhere. 

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