Certification, not degrees

An opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal (Aug 13th) by Charles Murray, “For Most People, College is a Waste of Time” has many points that I agree with. (Hat tip: R S Malapati.)

For a while I have been convinced that it is better to separate teaching from testing and evaluation. See this post “De-linking Teaching and Testing” (Feb 2005) where I wrote:

It is my contention that in the information age, the time has come when schools should de-link instruction from testing, and should concentrate only on instruction and leave the testing to institutions that are specialized in testing.

There are many examples of testing institutions. One familiar example is the “Educational Testing Services” (ETS) in the US which administers, among others, the GRE and TOEFL exams around the world.

For quite a while I have been advocating a new way of educating people. I propose a new system which is learner-centric in the sense that anyone who is interested in learning a subject can do so at his or her pace at whichever institution suits the needs of the learner. The student has the freedom to continue until he or she achieves the desired proficiency in the subject. An important component of this method would be the availability of a testing and certification agency. The WSJ article explores the idea in the context of the US college system. It has implications for India as well.