Are Idaho’s college students learning what they really should be learning to graduate? The answer, by one measure, is no. Recently, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni updated its review of colleges from around the country. Using ACTA’s grading scale, IFF has ranked the four top colleges in Idaho. Not even one received an “A” for requirements needed to graduate.
The evaluation is strictly based upon seven core areas and whether or not the core areas are mandatory for graduation: English Composition, Literature, Foreign Language, Mathematics, US History or Government, Science, and Economics.
Letter grades were assigned based on how many of the seven subjects students are required to complete. If a qualifying course was one of several options that also included unqualified courses, the institution did not receive credit for the subject. The grading system is as follows:
A: 6-7 core subjects required
B: 4-5 core subjects required
C: 3 core subjects required
D: 2 core subjects required
F: 0-1 core subjects required
It is important to note that the grading requirements were very strict. Evaluations of the curriculum and graduation requirements were conducted in a rigorous manner. For instance, if a math class is a “requirement” but the course requirements contains minimal college-level content, credit is not given for the report card.
Lewis and Clark State College – B 4 out of 7
Lewis and Clark State College receive the highest mark. The college requires Composition, Literature, Math and Science of all the students to graduate. For the remaining core courses the student is permitted to choose from a buffet style menu that while it includes many from our list, there is no mandatory provision for a Communications Art major to take US History or Economics.
University of Idaho – C 3 out of 7
The U of I only requires Foreign Language, Math, and Science of the students to graduate. Each department then decides which courses are mandatory for the students to take. Composition is a requirement for graduation, however the university has a provision that students that are entering can waive the requirement to take the entire Written English course if their SAT or ACT entrance exam scores were above a certain level. This approach does not allow students to experience the total liberal arts education, by leaving out subjects such as Literature, Economics, and US History / Government.
Idaho State University – C 3 out of 7
ISU uses a twelve point goal system that outlines what is required for all students to complete in order to graduate. The university requires all of their students to complete at least one class of the core areas identified above, which the student body to have a very wide exposure to the classical liberal arts education. The graduation requirements did mandate that acceptable college-levels in courses were achieved in Composition, Foreign Language, and Science. Two other subjects were required by the university, but in further examination, US Government or History and Math did not fully achieve the mark for the Report Card. US Government or history was not specifically required as part of goal 9. Math requirement at the university could be achieved with little college level content.
Boise State University- F 1 out of 7
BSU receives one credit for the evaluation - Literature. There are three other courses that BSU requires in the catalogue within our parameters, but these were not fully met in an in-depth evaluation of the course material. Math and science simply did not contain much more than a high-school level of science requirements to fulfill the completion of the core classes. In the subject of composition, like the University of Idaho, there is a provision for students to waive the entire written English course if their test scores on the ACT or SAT are above a certain level.
The time has come for Colleges and Universities to set a higher standard for students to aim for and increase the expectations of the graduates. In colleges throughout the U.S. curriculum is being “dumbed down” to accommodate lower K-12 requirements and this is becoming cyclical and the problem must be stopped and reversed to allow our kids, and our nation, to prosper in the future.
To learn more about the College ranking system of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, visit their website at http://www.goacta.org to see how colleges from around the country compare to Universities and Colleges in Idaho.