• Confessions of a Community College Dean

    In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.


Friday Fragments

Chicago's decision; course placement; a milestone.


June 14, 2018

Congratulations to the University of Chicago on going SAT/ACT optional.  Brookdale has been SAT/ACT optional since 1967, but hey, we’re glad to have the company.

My take on standardized tests is similar to my take on student course evaluations. They’re virtually meaningless in the middle, but sometimes helpful on the extremes. Someone with spotty grades but spectacular SAT’s probably has a story.  

“Test optional” allows for that story, though, and without many of the other issues testing raises.  Here’s hoping more of the selective institutions discover what community colleges have known for decades.


Course placement in dual enrollment courses is a bit less straightforward. There, you don’t have the same depth of high school record to use as a guideline, and placement exams are subject to all the same flaws there as they are everywhere else.

Multi-factor placement often relies on high school GPA, but I haven’t seen good data on placement criteria for students taking college courses while still in high school. 

Is there any?


This week, The Girl hit a major milestone. It’s a moment in a thirteen-year-old’s life after which things are never quite the same again.

“Here’s how to start the lawn mower.”

She gets to feel competent and empowered, and I get to skip mowing the lawn. Win-win!



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