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If you want to know how U.S. schoolchildren are performing, you don’t have to look far: A wealth of information is available, thanks to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Go online and see, for instance, that Massachusetts children outperform those in Texas, that average math scores have gone up nationally over the past 20 years and that the District of Columbia was the only urban district to improve in math and reading in grades 4 and 8 last year.

Ben Wildavsky

But what if you want to know how much students are learning in college? Here, the trail grows cold.

The Obama administration’s proposed college ratings would measure access, affordability and outcomes such as graduation rates — all of which are well worth tracking. But there’s no proposal to find a way to measure student learning.

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