08 October 2008

VSA's College Portrait & Beneficiaries

College Portrait

Project of VSA (Voluntary System of Accountability)
Sponsored by NASULGC (National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges) and AASCU (American Association of State Colleges and Universities)

Purpose = share reliable information about higher ed institutions in digestible format.

The primary audience is identified as students and families seeking to learn about universities and colleges. The important secondary audience consists of the higher ed community, the legislative community, and government agencies.

Through the voluntary system, schools construct a portrait and upload their data to the Internet. The portraits have these common themes: (a school's choice of) standardized test results, student learning outcomes, and display of standard statistics that permit comparisons.

As I read many portraits over the past week, I imagined who benefits from the collection that is promised to grow over years as more schools come on board and as the ones already participating add more detail, including test data.

Prospective students are reading other guides to colleges.

Prospective college students' families may indeed access College Portraits, more likely from schools' web sites rather than the VSA web site. The College Portrait logo will make the report instantly recognizable from one college site to another, which is a genuine service of the well-designed logo.

High school counselors and admissions advisors will probably put the VSA web site to best use as a convenient source of literally hundreds of short profiles. (Can't you imagine the number of printed PDFs that will be distributed in advising sessions this year?)

The higher education community itself is the greatest beneficiary of the effort in these ways:

1. College Portraits are a remarkable display of cooperation and flexibility by two large membership organizations (for planning) and their members (for participating). Regardless of a few missing states and some lag among the institutions that intend to be online, the overall image is of higher ed being on the same page in recognizing the need for accountability. Paired with the activity of independent colleges and universities in U-CAN, the message is promising for the future.

2. More difficult to articulate and demonstrate is the meaning of a College Portrait to the campus itself. I do not refer to public relations or school pride, which are more the product of rankings, anyway. Rather, the sheer fact of having a standardized published profile on its web site says to the faculty and staff, "we have to make public reports on what we do here."

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Our new site, http://www.college-admission-profiles.com is also a useful resource for comparing colleges/universities.