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Linda Frost’s essay, “Saving Honors in the Age of Standardization,” has many saving graces of its own. It is direct, honest and about as optimistic as we have any right to be. Even her title acknowledges that there is at least some chance of saving honors from the number crunchers and their lingo. I’d be right there with the woman who rolled her eyes and exclaimed “We’re just sick of it” if I hadn’t managed to steer clear of the measurement folk and their instruments of inquisition all these years.
I can remember the moment that I staged my first resistance. I was assigned to a Task Force on attrition. For months we interviewed students who were planning to leave the university and reviewed surveys written by students who had already left. None of it was either interesting or helpful. When I thought about all the time and human energy that we wasted, it all added up to just a single sentence, “They’re dropping like flies,” so I handed that sentence in as my completed report. I’m happy to say that it kept me off similar committees for many years. More than a decade later when, for my sins, I was asked to serve on an Outcomes Assessment Committee, I found another summary sentence that helped me gain my freedom once again— “They graduated!”