WASHINGTON, DC—The American Council of Trustees and Alumni praised the final report of the Virginia Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education, adopted yesterday for “challenging colleges and universities to become more prudent stewards of tax dollars and to do a better job of teaching students.”
The product of 18 months of hearings and study, the report recommends “institutional performance agreements” which require each college or university to achieve specific performance goals within a fixed period of time.
The report advocates a “quality assurance plan,” ensuring that students at every institution learn such “core competencies” as writing, mathematical analysis, scientific literacy, critical thinking, oral communication and technology.
“If adopted, these proposals will put Virginia at the forefront of a national trend toward lower costs, higher quality, and greater accountability,” said Dr. Jerry L. Martin, ACTA president and a member of the commission.
The report recommends a “core curriculum” ensuring that all students receive a broad grounding in such subjects as science, mathematics, history, literature, communications skills and technology.
“A solid core curriculum is the most reliable way to ensure that all students receive the broad education that will serve them, not just in their first job, but for a lifetime,” Martin said. “Excessive electives cater to students’ short-term fancies, not their long-term needs.”
ACTA has been meeting with governors and their staffs in other states, encouraging them to follow Virginia’s example in focusing systematically on ways to improve the quality, affordability, and accountability of higher education.
“Many states are spending more on higher education and worry that, in terms of actual student learning, they are getting less,” Martin said. “Virginia provides a model of how to restrain cost and increase quality at the same time.”
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to academic freedom, quality and accountability.