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The Danger of “Easy” Data

UTS administrators often attend Association of Theological Schools (ATS) events. Experience shows that it is important for UTS to stay current with the conversations which are part of the theological landscape in North America.

Robin James Graham, UTS Director of Advancement and Communication

Four troubling numbers in our future

You may have heard the story of a man who lost his keys one night outside and was looking for them under a street light. A passerby asked him if he could remember the last place he had them, to which he responded, “Down the street.” Asked why he didn’t look for them there, the man replied, “The light is better here.” Looking in the wrong place because it is “better” (read “easier”) reminds me of the danger of “easy” data—and why such data may be as harmful as no data or even bad data.

The most prominent example of “easy” (read “dangerous”) data for accrediting agencies like ours is what I call “four troubling numbers in our future.” Those four numbers are being pushed hard by politicians and policy makers in Washington DC, especially by the US Department of Education (USDE), as reliable indicators of educational quality. And while I’m not aware of any similar pressure for our Canadian colleagues, the USDE’s reach is long and strong, especially for the dozen or so Canadian schools in ATS that participate in USDE federal loan programs.

Continue reading…. The danger of “easy data: Four troubling numbers in our future

Tom Tanner is director, accreditation and institutional evaluation. When he is not out on the road with evaluation teams, he loves to analyze ATS data.