Collateral Damage: The Problem With Proposed Institutional Performance Standards for Federal Financial Aid


It is easy to teach good students. The “star teachers” at Harvard or Stanford can assume a certain knowledge base as starting points in their classes and can set expectations that the majority of their students can reasonably meet. They have a narrow range of students, all of whom have been carefully selected through an extensive admissions process.

It’s quite different, teaching at a campus that has something close to open admissions. Nothing, in terms of student knowledge, can be assumed, especially if the student population includes a large number of “international” students. Expectations change in each class each semester based on an evaluation of each student group. The range of students is extensive, and it is never possible to tell what it will be in any particular section. Generally, one or two students would probably be able to compete in an elite classroom and one or two are in the…

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