Glider from the game of Life, rising from the left




Topic: #buzzwords

The NSA's Core Values


You can't make this stuff up.

“NSA Deletes ‘Honesty’ and ‘Openness’ from Core Values”
Jean Marc Manach, The Intercept, January 24, 2018

The National Security Agency maintains a page on its website that outlines its mission statement. But earlier this month, the agency made a discreet change: It removed “honesty” as its top priority.

Since at least May 2016, the surveillance agency had featured honesty as the first of four “core values” listed on, alongside “respect for the law,” “integrity,” and “transparency.” The agency vowed on the site to “be truthful with each other.”

On January 12, however, the NSA removed the mission statement page — which can still be viewed through the Internet Archive — and replaced it with a new version. Now, the parts about honesty and the pledge to be truthful have been deleted. The agency's new top value is “commitment to service,” which it says means “excellence in pursuit of our critical mission.” …

In its old core values, the NSA explained that it would strive to be deserving of the “great trust” placed in it by national leaders and American citizens. It said that it would “honor the public's need for openness.” But those phrases are now gone; all references to “trust,” “honor,” and “openness” have disappeared.

#National-Security-Agency #honesty #buzzwords

The Assessment Fad Decelerates


After a quarter century of dominance, the educationistic fad of assessment seems finally to be running out of steam.

“An Insider's Take on Assessment: It May Be Worse Than You Thought”
Erik Gilbert, The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 12, 2018

Because it's fairly obvious that assessment has not caused (and probably will not cause) positive changes in student learning, and because it's clear that this has been an open secret for a while, one wonders why academic administrators have been so acquiescent about assessment for so long.

Here's why: It's no accident that the rise of learning-outcomes assessment has coincided with a significant expansion in the use of adjunct faculty, the growth of dual enrollment, and the spread of online education. Each of these allows administrators to deliver educational product to their customers with little or no involvement from the traditional faculty. If they are challenged on the quality of these programs, they can always point out that assessment results indicate that the customers are learning just as much as the students in traditional courses.

Gilbert's explanation is somewhat plausible for large research universities, but the push for assessment started before the other trends he cites really took hold, and it has been equally powerful at liberal-arts colleges that have been much less influenced by those other trends.

On the other hand, research universities and liberal-arts colleges have suffered about equally from administrative hypertrophy and bloat. My guess is that the assessment fad caught on so well because it reinforced and seemed to justify the expansion of administrative power at the expense of faculty and cooperative governance.

Encountering this article has led me to resusciatate and republish an essay that I wrote almost twenty years ago, in response to a spectacularly cynical piece of advocacy.

#assessment #fads-in-education #buzzwords

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created June 1, 2014 · last revised December 10, 2018