the $10,000 degree

Governor Perry called for  $10,000 degree in his State of the Union address recently. It turns out Texas already has a $10,000 degree and it may be cut soon.
South Texas College is one of three community colleges in Texas — the others are Brazosport College and Midland College — authorized to offer a Bachelor of Applied Technology degree. It’s a real, honest-to-goodness bachelor’s degree, designed for students who already have an Associate of Applied Science — a technical degree that often doesn’t transfer to traditional universities. It can be leveraged into middle management positions or even the pursuit of a master’s degree. And the cost tends to be in the $10,000 range.
Joanne Jacobs has a post up on how to do one of these degrees: a large initial investment, online lectures and classes, and, of course, it would testing.
Provide mandatory state-wide standardized tests for each year of each program, providing an accurate measure of student learning. The College Learning Assessment, as well as CLEP and GRE Subject exams, could be used to measure students’ progress in critical thinking, logic, writing skills, and discipline-specific competencies. These results could be used to evaluate both courses and instructors on a rigorous, value-added basis for students of different backgrounds and aptitudes.
Jacobs has this to say:
Well-prepared, motivated learners could earn a $9,900 degree in three years. The average college student, shaky on math and writing skills and used to hand-holding in high school, isn’t likely to make it without a lot more support. But it would be very interesting to see how many students would rise to the challenge in hopes of saving time and money.
Most students at traditional schools get very little support, if any. School structure is costly and all factors weigh against kids, the poorer, the harder it is. Schools scold kids for being unprepared while doing a poor job of providing support and structure and coherency.  The big state university is an administrative and unresponsive institution:  it is not student centered. Ivies give real support but not most schools.

And poorly-prepared students are not causing higher ed to cost more, just as poor people who want housing didn't cause the mortgage crisis.  Students are poorly prepared because of schooling itself.

An even better way to do it would be for Texas to let each student use the 10,000 in ways that they choose and this method would allow the students to drive the process and might bring more and better results. And if that was done by all schools, K-12, as voluntary learning centers, we may even be able to reinvigorate the high school diploma and pack more education in less time.

Wouldn't all this hurt the schools, the large institutions, that benefit whether kids learn or not?  We need states to make investments in green energy and perhaps big upfront investments could be made into other areas that would provide more return and sustainability.

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