While the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education is seeking to create a comprehensive exit examination for state and community colleges, Boston University is not interested in such a test, according to BU spokesman Colin Riley.
“It wouldn’t apply to us, what [the Board] does,” Riley said. “Boston University is a very competitive school; it is unlikely that we would adopt such a test.”
The Board is planning to design a test focused on writing, computer skills, critical thinking and other basic skills. The test would serve as a graduation requirement for students.
The test is still in its planning stages. The Board remains uncertain on how to administer the exam, what form it will take and how to deal with students who don’t meet minimum requirements, though oral exams and portfolios are being considered as methods of examination, along with a standard written exam.
The idea for a comprehensive exit test is modeled after the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exam that is taken by Massachusetts’ high school students. Officials said it would be at least four years, though, before a comprehensive test for colleges could be created.
Riley thinks such a test is unnecessary for BU.
“The fact that our students must complete all their degree requirements, matriculate through college and petition for graduation is more than enough for us,” he said.
Many students agreed with Riley’s position, saying standardized tests don’t fit a specialized college education.
“I don’t like the idea of a standardized test,” said College of Arts and Sciences junior Brad Vocino. “I especially don’t like the idea of having one at BU.
“A test like that wouldn’t be fair to students who took the required courses for their college early. They would be taking an exam with content that they haven’t looked at in years.”
Ronald Tien, a CAS sophomore, said standardized testing is a beneficial concept for high school students but not for college students.
“I wouldn’t mind if a test was focused on your major, but it’s not fair for students to be tested on something outside their major,” he said. “Especially not in a school as diverse as BU, where students take so many different classes.”
“It would have to be a very broad exam to test all students,” said Krista Farese, a junior in CAS. “And if you make a test that broad, what’s the point of it? I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
Vocino said after graduation, the objective is to find work, something which doesn’t necessarily require wide knowledge in a wide spectrum of areas.
“A test like that wouldn’t make you more qualified for a job, which is the main concern after graduation,” Vocino said. “Jobs don’t cover all fields that you learned in college.”
However, Ashley Pollock, a freshman in CAS, believed a comprehensive exam could be beneficial, if enough schools participated.
“The test would be a good idea if it were widespread,” she said. “If only a few institutions participated, though, it wouldn’t mean anything.”
Pollock also echoed other students’ concerns regarding the nature of such an all-encompassing and heavily-weighted test.
“It would be like the SATs,” she said. “Some people are good test-takers and some aren’t, and just using a test to rate everyone doesn’t take into account people who are knowledgeable but just do poorly on standardized testing.”