'Post-college SAT' aims to level playing field in crowded job market

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 28 2013 9:07 a.m. MDT

The Collegiate Learning Assessment, which will launch in 2014, is primarily intended to give employers a more effective measure of job competency than GPA.

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Standardized tests like the SAT and ACT have long been viewed as the gateway to a college education. But in an effort to quantify just how much students have learned during their years of higher education, beginning next year new graduates at about 200 U.S. universities will be asked to take a standardized test on their way out the door.

That test, CLA+ (shorthand for Collegiate Learning Assessment), is designed with the dual knowledge that prospective employers are increasingly souring on GPA for evaluating college grads, and students who take Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) can develop competent job skills without ever earning a college degree.

Scored on a 1,600-point scale, the CLA+ “represents the latest threat to the fraying monopoly that traditional four-year colleges have enjoyed in defining what it means to be well educated,” the Wall Street Journal’s Douglas Belkin reported Sunday in the front-page article “Are You Ready for the Post-College SAT?”

“Students will be allowed to show their scores to prospective employers,” Belkin continued. “The test costs $35. … Instead of measuring subject-area knowledge, it assesses things like critical thinking, analytical reasoning, document literacy, writing and communication.”

The “Overview” tab on the CLA+ website explained, “Students today can no longer rely solely on mastery of discipline-based information. They need to be able to analyze and evaluate information, solve problems and communicate effectively. Beyond just accumulating facts, they must be able to access, structure and use information. … Now with CLA+, new student-level metrics provide guidance to students and data to faculty and administrators for making decisions about grading, scholarships, admission or placement.”

Email: jaskar@desnews.com

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