On Competence: A Critical Analysis of Competence-Based Reforms in Higher Education
Gerald Grant, et al.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1979, pp. 299-334

Chapter 9: Creating a Nontraditional College for New Careers: The College for Human Services, by Gerald Grant

The quarters of the College for Human Services are properly un­prepossessing. As befits honest reformers, the place is frugal, a bit drab, and hand-me-down. Most of its 200 students are mothers who have been on welfare, although in recent years there has been a slight increase in the number of men who have come to the college. About 60 percent of the students are black, 25 percent are Spanish-American, 12 percent are Polish-American (most of them recent immigrants), and the rest are other white or Oriental. Two mornings a week they come out of a subway at Varick and Houston streets in lower Manhattan and enter a sooty building. On the eleventh floor they turn down a hall lined with offices that have been converted to classrooms. Some rooms have bright rugs, but there are few luxuries. A library of several thousand volumes is at one end of the hall; nearby is a student lounge with a few chairs and tables, but the students do little lounging because the two days they spend at the college are filled with classes and conferences from 8:30 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. The other three days of the week they are employed as interns in schools, hospitals, social work agencies, museums, and a variety of other training positions that comprise what the college calls the human services.

The college was created by Audrey Cohen, a determined visionary and radical. She is shrewd, tough -- although suave when necessary -- and a fighter. She still bristles at the mention of a New Republic article by Joseph Featherstone that claimed the college "was started by a handful of reformist middle-class ladies with the idea of training poor women for jobs as assistants to professionals" (1969, p. 1). Featherstone is partly right, although Cohen, as an egalitarian, resented being identified with a privileged class. She is reminiscent of the settlement house reformers of the nineteenth century and their notion of noblesse oblige; in her emphasis on service and practical competence and her criticism of traditional universities, she has much in common with Jane Addams and Lillian Wald. Yet her aims, which involve the reform of the professions at large and of higher education in particular, are even more ambitious than theirs.

Cohen was born in Pittsburgh and graduated in 1953 from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in political science. She taught high school for three years, was active in the civil rights movement in Washington, D.C., and pursued graduate studies at George Washington University. In 1958 she founded Part-Time Research Associates, utilizing the talents of more than 200 married women in the Washington area to do research tasks for a variety of clients, and the experience proved to be an early illustration that performance does not necessarily correlate with credentials. When her husband changed jobs, she moved to New York and in 1964 founded the Women's Talent Corps, turning her energies away from the employment of suburban housewives to the placement of low-income black women in burgeoning federal programs.

In 1966, the Women's Talent Corps received a grant from the federal Office of Economic Opportunity not only to train these women but to create permanent jobs for them in the human service sector, beginning as paraprofessionals. At that time, the college did not talk so much about transforming the professions as it did about reducing the antagonism between professionals and the poor neighborhoods they were supposed to serve, although the seeds of its later emphasis on social change can be found even in its early history. Of the 120 women accepted for the initial program, 113 completed a thirty-week training cycle and were subsequently em­ployed. The college was especially proud that it established a foot­hold for "new careers" in several agencies, as well as in schools where the title "educational assistant" was created to denote the pedagogical responsibilities of the women from the talent corps in contrast to nonteaching community aides. At the time, the college was convinced it had achieved an important goal by helping to create such new positions as case aide, lay therapist, and community liaison assistant, and felt these would be first rungs on career ladders, not dead-end, nose-wiping jobs.

The core faculty were described in a 1968 report as "hard­headed do-gooders" -- women who, as volunteers and mothers, had had enough experience with incompetence among professionals to be unawed by credentials and jargon.' **Most of the twenty faculty were white, perhaps one third were Jewish. There were two blacks and one Puerto Rican among them, including the vice-president, Laura Pires Houston, a Cape Verdean who had graduated from Smith College and earned a master's degree in social work at Columbia. Most of the white women had backgrounds in education or social work (only three had degrees in the field), and there were two lawyers and a few former journalists among them. Several were married to ministers or had studied theology. There were no men in the major administrative posts, and when we visited the college in 1970 we observed that lines of authority seemed more loose and relaxed than would be typical of most male-dominated organizations.

Toward a Breakthrough

In those first years, the college laid the foundation for a new faculty role, that of the "coordinating teacher" who divided her time between supervising students on the job and, more importantly, acting as an advocate for students in establishing career ladders. A student assigned to a legal services office, for example, might begin with responsibilities no weightier than filing papers or answering the telephone. As the student learned more in class and on the job, the faculty member would negotiate increased responsibilities, such as legal research or initial client interviews. Eventually, in successful cases, the student would receive increased pay and a redefinition of job. Coordinating teachers also sought to identify supervisors at the agencies as potential "teachers" for the students: the college expected the agency to help make the job a learning experience. Since the students were supported by federal training grants (now by funds from the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act through the City of New York), the college gained leverage with the agency by making students available as "free" labor for the first year of training, after which the agency assumed half the cost. And although the college was founded in the days of Lindsay optimism, it has been able to continue operating in an era of Beame and Koch budgets. It believes that the need for preparing "human service workers" continues to be acute, projecting a demand for millions of additional jobs to provide adequate education, health care, and recreational services. (For data cited by the college here, see Pearl, 1973.)

In 1967, the college added a second year to its training program, and in 1968, applied to New York State for a college charter with authority to grant the associate of arts degree. The Department of Higher Education rejected the application on the grounds that most of the college's students had not graduated from high school, its faculty did not possess advanced degrees nor sufficient college teaching experience, and it did not have an adequate library or endowment. The students' median age was thirty-seven, and most scored below ninth-grade level on tests of verbal and mathematical ability. The reviewing officers praised the "social effectiveness of this dedicated and imaginative group of women," but concluded that the Women's Talent Corps lacked the essential characteristics of a degree-granting institution.

Although such a decision is usually regarded as final, Cohen chose to ignore the door that had been shut in her face. Noting that technically the decision was not binding on the final authority, the New York Board of Regents, she began a campaign for approval at that level. She asked for a review of the college's program by Alvin Eurich's Academy for Educational Development, which sub­sequently recommended its approval as a degree-granting institution. She also hired a lawyer to contest the endowment requirement. Some concessions were made to demands for specialist faculty within the college's interdisciplinary structure. Not least, the college initiated a broad campaign to generate political and educational support.

On the matter of admissions standards, the college argued that job performance did not necessarily correlate with previous credentials and that students should be admitted without regard to previous formal education if they could pass basic reading and math tests. In response to criticism that the college did not adequately evaluate student performance, the Educational Testing Service `(ETS )' was asked to advise whether tests had been developed that could be adapted to the college's program. When the ETS experts could furnish none, the college cited this as evidence of the need for it to develop new measures of student performance.

Internally, some faculty and students opposed seeking degree status; they feared that bending to bureaucratic requirements would mean sacrificing freedom to experiment. But other students were equally strong in their desire to obtain the "piece of paper" that opened doors in a diploma-conscious society. When it was suggested that the charter campaign would be an ideal project for the final unit of the first-year curriculum on social change, faculty members took sides. Some argued that the best way to learn about social change was to participate in an effort to win college status for them­selves; others opposed the campaign on the grounds that it upset curriculum plans and coerced students. In the end a compromise was reached in which students could choose among several action projects. Many participated in the charter effort, organizing letter­writing campaigns, seeking support for the college in agencies where they worked, and collecting petitions. In 1970, the board of regents provisionally approved a college charter and the right to grant the associate degree for a period of five years.

Although buoyed by the successful charter campaign, the college was coming to realize that its early enthusiasm about establish­ing new routes to professional careers was naive. Although it was suc cessful in getting women off welfare and employed in paraprofes­sional positions, the college was forced to conclude that its hoped-for career ladders were largely illusory. Some of its "paraprofessional" graduates were hard to distinguish from the professionals with whom they worked -- apart from the size of their paychecks. Yet they found that the career ladders had too many steps and bumped into very low ceilings. The associate degree would help some graduates over­come hurdles to advancement on the job, but the college realized that it must not just find new pathways to advancement for its graduates but change both the pathways and the professions. A change in consciousness about the nature of the training the college wanted to give was occurring. Less emphasis would now be put on the concept of training paraprofessionals as helpers who could move upward in traditional channels, and more would be given to the idea that the helping professions themselves needed major reform if they were to emphasize "humane service." The college would uphold its primary mission of promoting integration and "opening up the system" to minorities, but it would be "equally concerned with changing human service institutions so that they become more responsive to human needs. The more the college works in this area, the clearer it becomes that the shortcomings of the present system affect the public at large, and that basic changes are needed in the way service is delivered to everyone. . . . To this end, it will seek to create a new kind of credential, a two-year professional degree based on a definition that emphasizes humane performance rather than simply academic knowledge" (College for Human Services, 1972, p. 64).

The new emphasis that Cohen was putting on reforming the professions by seeking authority to grant a full professional certificate (and eventually a master's degree) created major tensions. When the college added a second year to its original thirty-week program, it hired more black and Spanish-speaking male faculty, some of whom opposed the move to a new credential, believing the college should concentrate on the more limited goal of "open­ing the system" to minorities. Students petitioned for three days of classes a week, saying two days were insufficient to improve their deficiencies in English and math. Members of the student council accused Cohen of being a politician who had duped outside agencies into thinking she was an innovative educator. "We do not want the College for Human Services to grant us a master's degree in two years when many of us feel we need remedial work," the students wrote. "We feel Mrs. Cohen has hit upon a great idea . . . that new routes in education should be carved out and performance should be as important as academic achievement. But she has made a joke of her own ideas. Our training is shabby, our academic classes are poor, and once again we feel we have been taken advantage of."

When Cohen fired the black director of the second-year program in 1972, charges of racism were raised, a boycott ensued, and some faculty resigned, as did the black chairman of the board of trustees. Cohen's resignation was demanded, and the faculty strike committee urged her replacement by a black or Puerto Rican president. Unlike many white liberals who have caved in under such demands, Cohen replied by answering her opponents' specific charges and noting the acceptance of the college's program by many agencies; she pointedly informed dissident faculty that the demand for her resignation was based on considerations of color, not perfor­mance; she hired a lawyer to defend her in the grievance hearings that were being pursued by the dismissed director; and when she was upheld, she proceeded to fire more than a dozen members of the faculty.

During this period, the college began to pay more attention to training in basic skills and to pursue more seriously a master's degree program. While continuing to recruit poor minority students, it also set out to raise entrance requirements. Although a diploma was not required, students increasingly had the equivalent of a high school education, and some had spent a year or more in com­munity colleges. Starting salaries for new faculty rose from $8,500 to $13,500.

The new emphasis on basic skills was also influenced by the college's experience with the Legal Service Assistant program. A joint venture with Columbia University Law School, this was one of the most carefully investigated programs undertaken by the college. Students in the legal aid program spent one third of their time at the college, in its interdisciplinary core curriculum, one third at Columbia in courses in legal skills and analysis with special emphasis on so-called poverty law (welfare family law, landlord­tenant actions), and one third on the job as practicing legal aides. Of the twenty-three students initially accepted in the program, eighteen completed the first year. Sixteen of these were offered jobs and eleven of those sixteen continued to hold their jobs for the second year. Nine received special merit increases in the offices where they worked. Six of those hired for the second year earned considerable independence, frequently handling routine cases up to the point of courtroom appearance, when an attorney took over. Five performed limited legal tasks under close supervision, and five others worked as clerical aides and messengers (one operated a switchboard). The program thus made clear that some minority students with only grade school skills at entrance could rise in two years of an intensive program to perform "professional" roles. On the other hand, poor work habits and repeated lateness and absences constituted a major problem for five of the sixteen aides and a minor problem for four others. Only about one fourth of the students reached a professional level. (See Statsky, 1969 and 1970; also "Legal Service Assistants," 1970.)

Despite the success of the legal service program, the college decided to terminate it and to put its effort into developing new performance standards for a generic profession of human service. In effect, it ruled out the more specialized professions, such as law or medicine, and concentrated on social work, guidance and coun­seling, education, and other areas where there is no clearly defined or highly structured knowledge base underlying practice.

In a typically prescient essay Nathan Glazer (1974a) has noted that the schools that train social workers, teachers, city planners, or ministers have been dubbed "professional schools" by courtesy, since they do not rest on the same base of special or tech­nical knowledge as the classic professions of law and medicine. These schools have courted status by replacing practitioners with scholars and researchers. Thus schools of education are increasingly staffed by psychologists, sociologists, historians, and philosophers rather than by master teachers or practitioners. But sociologists and psychologists may be more interested in their specialties than in the quality of service that practitioners deliver, and the most useful training for the "minor professions" of education and social work takes place on the job, despite clear and important links to the aca­demic disciplines.

The problem faced by the College for Human Services was how to shape a curriculum that would draw on the disciplines in a way that would permit performance or competence-based evaluation on the job. The college believed from the beginning that all work with people involves basic similarities and depends on a com­mon store of concepts and techniques. But if professional standing in the minor professions was not tied to specialized knowledge in the traditional sense, what, then, was the basis for judging the compe­tence of the human service professional? For the next several years, the college attempted to answer the question stated most cogently by Laura Houston: "What does `professional' really mean in terms of service, of results?" (1970).

Medicine and law had answered that (1) initial entry into a profession must be controlled by certification through professional schools, and (2) only other professionals who possess the specialized knowledge and the privileged access to information about clients can judge the competence of practitioners. The college and other critics of the professions have argued that certification procedures in professional schools are inadequate because they rely on grades and formal requirements although research studies have shown that grades (except, perhaps, in the field of engineering) rarely relate to occupational success. (See Jencks and others, 1972.) Initial entry, they claim, has sometimes been unfairly restricted to protect a profit monopoly as much as to protect standards. They argue that lax supervision of some self-interested professionals has resulted in inade­quate protection for clients as well as increased isolation from standards of humane service. (Anderson, 1973, gives support to this view.)

Thus, the college has attempted to devise an assessment system that includes clients as well as professionals, faculty, and student peers.

In the fall of 1971, after the decision had been made to pursue a professional certificate, the faculty organized itself into five committees: education, daycare, drug therapy, social work, and health professions. Each of these committees included some persons from the agencies where students had been placed. Each group at­tempted to define a standard of professional competence in that field, drawn from their own experience in supervision and observa­tion, on the basis of job descriptions, association statements, licensing requirements, and performance.

By the spring of 1972, however, the faculty expressed frus­tration that they were not getting at generic "competencies." So in an effort to define the professional competence of humane human service workers, the college turned to empirical research and re­tained David McClelland, the Harvard social psychologist, and his private research firm, the McBer Company, as consultants. McClelland had recently written an article, "Testing for Compe­tence Rather than for Intelligence" (1973), that appealed to the college in part because it argued that generic subsets of personal attributes underlying competence could be defined. The study done for the college by the McBer Company was an important step to­ward building a new competence-based curriculum. The company's research did not involve direct observation but relied on an analysis of ten critical incidents or events described by sixty-two exemplary human service workers who were selected by the college on the basis of its own observations in various agencies. While not imputing any "superior knowledge of professional performance" to the college, the company argued that the "college alone can define its mission" and that it was appropriate for them to define it in terms of pro­ducing practitioners resembling the sixty-two regarded as exemplary by the college.

As a result of its analysis, the McBer Company derived the following seven competencies (Dailey and others, 1974):

  1. Strong faith that human needs can and must be met
    1. that every client can change and grow
    2. that attitude change is possible and is itself worthwhile
    3. that you can get the system to adjust to the needs of the indi­vidual at least some of the time
  2. Ability to identify correctly the human problem
    1. by being a good listener and observer
    2. by being able to get other people to talk openly and freely
  3. Ability to arrive at realistic, achievable goals in collaboration with clients
  4. Imaginativeness in thinking of solutions to problems
    1. through use of own human relations skills
    2. through knowledge of resources and regulations
  5. Persistence in pursuing solutions, often against hostile authorities
  6. Ability to remain task-oriented under stress, hostility
  7. Skills in getting interested parties to work together to arrive at common goals

As an example, the fifth competence of "persistence in pur­suing solutions" was the outcome of an aggregate of the following events cited in the critical incidents: "Insisting on payments to a family with five children whose benefits were cut off because their father had died; staying with a suicidal person; reacting to direct and public criticism from immediate superior; overcoming the board's unwillingness to invest in a program for the foreign born; recognizing the gradualism inherent in changing a system by very sustained and patient effort; working in an impossible multiagency system to help an intolerable and overwhelming family situation in housing; facing overwhelming defeat." Many questions may be raised about the validity of the McBer Company's methods and the value of its findings, and the college did not adopt the report as such. Still, it became the basis of continued discussion among the faculty and was an important step toward the college's goal of basing its program on new definitions of competence and on new professional models.

When the faculty met in the spring of 1974 to work on the concrete details of the new curriculum for the class that would enter in the summer, the fruits of the long months of searching for new definitions and new directions finally began to be felt. After weeks of work, a light dawned, and two years later, faculty were still speak­ing of the euphoria of the "breakthrough." In retrospect, as in most quite complex matters, it seems rather simple. The group members discovered that they had been talking about two different kinds of competencies. On the one hand, students were asked to do some­thing: "design and implement a learning-helping environment" or "conduct human service research." On the other hand, they were asked to concern themselves with certain aspects of performance: consciousness of their own values, or understanding the larger system within which an action was embedded. Thus the competencies were a statement of actions or functions, as well as of values or dimensions. It was the combination of the accomplishment with an awareness of its values that constituted a professional performance. In a sense, the "breakthrough" brought to awareness an aim as old as the sixteenth­century Jesuit ideal, actione contemplativus, acting with purpose and contemplative awareness. Like the Jesuits, the college also emphasized the need to judge human action in its fullness: "It is clear that the dimensions can only serve their purpose as a guide to learning and assessment if they encompass every significant aspect of performance. Any breakdown of performance into its supposed elements is, of course, artificial. Knowledge, skills, attitudes, the components into which learning is most commonly analyzed, are totally inappropriate for performance-based education because they disregard the active interplay of insight, experience, judgment, pur­pose, etc., that comprises a living performance. Instead of dealing in such rigid categories, the college has tried to develop the dimensions as a filter that makes it possible to focus on the various aspects of performance without forgetting their relationship to the whole" (College for Human Service, 1974, p. 1:74).

This "whole" to be assessed by the college was called a "constructive action." The curriculum, as the student would en­counter it, was arranged as a series of "constructive actions," and each student, in order to "act as a change agent, planning, research­ing and promoting progress to improve human service delivery," would concentrate his or her learning and experience on a series of constructive actions demonstrating different facets of competence. The performance grid summarizing this development, which has remained the basic bible of the new curriculum, is shown in Figure 1, along with sample facets of the curriculum related to each of the eight competencies and five dimensions.

A "grid," no matter how neat it is or how much euphoria it induces, is not sufficient to establish a new profession. Now several steps were taken. The first was to use the new curriculum to seek authority from New York State to grant a degree certifying its stu­dents as masters of human services. A profession also needs wider recognition from funding sources, policy-making groups, educational institutions, and other professions. In June 1974, the college brought together a broad potential support group and made a simple an­nouncement of a new profession of the human services. The most prestigious supporters at the conference were asked to form a task force to establish the new profession and win wider recognition of it. Others were politely ignored.

In August, the college explained its new curriculum and the research on which it was based in a two-volume proposal seeking the authority to grant the master's degree. The proposal highlighted three fundamental propositions the program was designed to test: '(1) that disadvantaged persons may be exceptionally qualified to serve others with intelligence, purpose and humanity; (2) that a performance-based program can prepare professionals in two rather than the usual five or six years; (3) that a new profession, human services, can serve clients better by responding to needs rather than within boundaries defined by traditional professions (1974, p. 1:5). Let us examine the curriculum from the student's viewpoint.

Operation of the New Curriculum

In the summer of 1975, at an admission session conducted by Jan Powell, a college counselor, and Pearl Daniels, the admissions director, one of the early arrivals was Jose Morales, who had been born in Puerto Rico and had worked in a New York shoe factory for twenty-three years. In March, when the factory had closed, his children had urged him to return to school despite his age of forty­one, and a friend who worked with his wife as a teacher's aide had told him about the College for Human Services. Like the other seven applicants -- six Polish-speaking applicants and one black -- who arrived for a group interview that morning, he had survived an earlier screening. Powell and Daniels, in explaining the history of the college, noted that it did not have the power to grant the master's degree and that the agencies in which students would be placed were not legally bound to hire them -- students thus could finish the program without acquiring either a degree or a job. Daniels warned them of the demands and rigor of the program, of the impact it would make on their lives and those of their families. The women would need two babysitters -- one as backup for the other. The divorce and separation rate of the students was high. They would receive a weekly stipend of $99.75 and free dental care in the first year. In the second year, since part of the cost would be paid by the agencies in the form of taxable salaries they would in effect suffer a pay cut, and Daniels urged them to try to save part of their stipend in the first year.

During the two-hour conversation that followed, students were invited to introduce themselves, to say why they wanted to come to the college, and to ask about any aspect of the program. Daniels and Powell responded candidly to questions, but most of their attention was focused on the interaction of the participants. Throughout the morning they evaluated candidates on the basis of eight criteria: (1) general appearance (dress, grooming, manners) ; (2) communication ability (listens to others, waits for them to finish, effectively expresses own ideas and opinions) ; (3) relevancy of comments to group discussion (comprehension, appropriateness, un­derstanding of what is taking place in group) ; (4) attitudes toward peers (interest in peer comments, openness to other points of view) ; (5) attitude toward group leaders (interaction, attention, quality of relationship, any hostility toward authority?) ; (6) expressed social concerns (awareness of problems and solutions, knowledgeability, values, recognition of need for change) ; (7) demonstrated potential for helping others (listening, evidence of warmth and empathy) ; (8)' academic motivation (willingness to try, readiness to see learn­ing as a positive way to change society, others, and self). Daniels and Powell made clear that the college sought insight into the atti­tudes and motivation of potential students. Selection was made with a view toward the main goal of the program, that is, the training of a highly motivated "humane" worker who listens, has empathy, sees need for change, and has the determination to get results.

Following the session, students spent the afternoon taking the college's own examinations while the interviewers compared their ratings. Jose Morales was appealing to both interviewers. They felt that this man who helped Spanish-speaking people fill out forms in the welfare office, who listened and showed enthusiasm, was "our kind of student." They admitted him at once. The exam­ination that the students took was homemade. No nationally standardized tests are given: the college does not find these useful for its own diagnostic purposes, and many of its applicants resent such tests. The college instead follows the principle that even success­ful applicants should learn something from taking a test. Hence the first reading comprehension question is a short article from the New York Daily News that explains a simple test for diagnosing sickle-cell anemia, a hereditary disease found almost exclusively among blacks. There are also excerpts from Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and an editorial by W. E. B. DuBois hailing the black soldier of the First World War: "Out of this war will rise an American Negro, with the right to vote and the right to work and the right to live without insult."

The college's ideology seeps into the model answer sheet used to grade exams. For example, on a twenty-five-word vocabulary test, the model answer for professional is given as "someone who has competence and commitment to serve." The word service is defined as "really helping." One of the questions following the DuBois edito­rial asks whether students would make the same arguments about the black soldier in the Vietnam War, and the answer sheet reads: "No. He was fighting other people of color. If there is a right side, it is more the Communists. There are no immediate benefits for the returning G.I. except a small G.I. Bill." But questions cast in this way constituted less than 20 points on a 385-point scale. It would be misleading to interpret the test principally as a device for screen­ing out those with "incorrect" political views. In fact, the col­lege's bias is more like that of a religious group seeking postulants who, having heard its call for service and social change, will be good candidates for the college's "ideology of citizen empowerment." The exam also includes questions about the college, based on the materials distributed to students in advance and the explanations given to them in the admissions session. It concludes with a short math quiz. Morales scored 315 (250 is passing), displaying excellent comprehension but weak math skills. Of the eight, five were ac­cepted, two rejected, and one provisionally admitted. Two of those admitted had a year of college, three were high school graduates, and Morales had completed the eleventh grade.

The admissions process, like the college itself, is compassion­ate but tough. Final admissions decisions are not made until the stu­dent completes a three-week trial in class -- a true "performance test" -- since the college is not only admitting a student but in effect is hiring him, since it acts as a proxy for various agencies. This, of course, makes dismissal more difficult, since to fail a student is essentially to "fire" him. But the college tries not to shirk that re­sponsibility. Although it grants wide access, it does not guarantee exit. The reputation of the college rests on the performance of its students, and while it takes chances, it cannot risk many disasters on the job.

"Become an effective learner and potential professional" is the simple declaration students hear as they begin classes at the college. For most of them, the idea that one can learn more or less effectively is a novel one, but this, of course, is the "purpose dimen­sion" of the "learning" competence, as set forth in Figure 1: "Demonstrate your readiness to work toward realizing your personal and professional goals and helping the college fulfill its mission by joining the college as learner and potential professional." Working on this first competency involves a course on the college and its unique language of "performance grids" and "constructive actions." In it, students are actually being asked if, on the basis of more de­tailed knowledge of what the place is about, they are ready to make a contract to pursue the college's goals. Particularly for students in a high-risk category (that may mean recent parole on a felony charge for some), this is a moment of commitment when they must decide if they "really want to get off the corner."

By the end of the four-week period devoted to the first com­petency, during which they spend five days a week at the college, students must write a proposal describing their personal goals over the next two years and outlining the steps by which they will reach them. In the process, they must demonstrate an understanding of how others will help them reach these goals (the "self and others" dimension), that they understand how the college's aims contrast with those of traditional professional education (the "systems" dimension), and how they can "determine and rank long- and short-range goals and develop alternative strategies for reaching them" (the problem-solving "skills" dimension). Students keep a log or diary during this first competency unit, which includes an exercise in assessing the values of the teachers they are encountering in class. Students also read autobiographies showing contrasting values and learning styles.

The remainder of the two-year program focuses on field placement, and the aggressive negotiating strategy used by the col­lege in finding placements was illustrated on the day two staff mem bers, Ruth Messinger and Bonnie Hall, went to the Manhattan De­velopment Center to secure placements for fourteen students. They met with the heads of several mental health facilities, including institutions for mentally retarded children, community halfway houses, and mental health therapy centers. Of the group, Dr. Alphonse Sorhaindo was perhaps the most favorably disposed toward the college and was eager to have its students as interns. But others around the table were more skeptical. After polite prob­ing of the curriculum, they voiced fears that shrinking budgets would force them to dismiss the college's students at the end of the program. But at this point Messinger explained that Audrey Cohen had negotiated with the associate commissioner of the Department of Mental Hygiene in Albany. He had agreed to find funds and "job lines" for fifty-five of her students at the completion of the two­year program. Messinger showed them a copy of that letter and promised that the college would hold the commissioner -- not them -- responsible for the jobs. This was typical of the college's strategy of negotiating job quotas at the highest level so that whenever possible local agencies were relieved of the burden of justifying new budget positions.

Although such high-level endorsement is crucial, the college must still win its way into individual agencies and obtain the di­rector's signature on a seven-page contract, the heart of which reads: "The college and the agency agree to this relationship inorder to: a) develop appropriate new educational routes into the human service profession; b) plan and implement training leading to professional employment; c) jointly employ a system of performance-based assessment criteria that will ensure professional com­petence; d)' initiate and implement procedures for acquiring the academic degrees and certification that will assure program grad­uates appropriate professional status; and e) provide skilled workers who, both during the course of the program and thereafter, will improve, supplement and expand human service delivery and demonstrate new and effective professional roles."

The contract then spells out the agency's responsibilities and declares that the college will help to devise the educational com­ponent of training on the job and will make a determination of what portion of time over the two-year period will be spent in work and what in study. By morning's end, the director, who had been con­sistently doubtful, agreed to take four students personally under his wing.

The most difficult and challenging task students face comes on the heels of the four-week competency unit on becoming "an effective learner," during which students are at the college five days a week. But with the second competency, ("establish professional relation­ships at the work site with coworkers and citizens"), they begin to spend three days each week on the job. In more than a few of the agencies that employ the college's students, a multitude of problems have developed in the course of integrating students into the work setting. Some supervisors are openly skeptical that these students­many without high school diplomas and just off welfare -- are in fact potential professionals. At Morrisania Hospital in the Bronx ten positions in social work had been negotiated. But when the students showed up, they were found unacceptable for those positions, al­though ultimately they were allowed to remain in a variety of other human service capacities. Again, teachers in a public school to which two of the college's students had been assigned would not allow them into the teachers' lounge. And even where there is no hostility, students must overcome the common view that the College for Human Services is a community college preparing paraprofes­sionals. When students who have been treated like professionals by the college are placed in paraprofessional or subprofessional positions in agencies, it is difficult, if not impossible, for them to make the jump to professional status. The self-doubts of the students themselves (sometimes grounded in realistic self-appraisals of deficiencies in knowledge in specialized fields), the natural tendency to seek good relationships with coworkers (difficult if you are seen by paraprofessionals as a rate-buster on the way up), and the gate­keepers who protect existing positions with the tariff of the five-year master's degree compound the problems. One hears about these battles in visits to field sites: the efforts of students to gain access to client records, to professional staff seminars, or to other equivalents of the executive washroom. The outcomes of these struggles vary, of course, but even where the host agency is hospitable, students may be relegated to paraprofessional positions at the end of their training because of budget restrictions or lack of formal degree requirements.

The quality of the student placement is the linchpin on which the whole program turns. One model site is New York's Museum of Natural History, where a Spanish-speaking student works as a teaching aide in the Mexican wing. Here the college had tapped the resources of a doctoral-level museum staff that worked closely with the intern, tutoring him, guiding his reading in Mayan culture, and teaching him museum procedures. Similarly, at the Keener Clinic, a residential facility for retarded children, students rotated through internships in physical therapy, behavior modi­fication techniques, and classroom training. They also participated in a weekly seminar under the direction of a Columbia doctoral student in psychology. In other placements, the college has not been as successful. At the Polish-Slavic Center in Brooklyn, for example, efforts to turn students into switchboard operators and envelope stuffers had to be halted.

After completing the first two competencies, by November many students, like Jose Morales, are in the midst of the third: "Working with others in groups, helping to establish clear goals." If he had somewhat lowered his high original expectations, Morales was by no means discouraged with the program. The only reserva­tion he expressed was that perhaps the screening should have been tougher -- fewer students would then be admitted with deficiencies in basic skills or with family problems. Yet it seemed remarkable to him that there were no drunks and nobody high on drugs in the college, given what he knew of other colleges in the city. He winced when it was suggested that perhaps classes should be tracked in skill areas­"tracking" was virtually a forbidden word -- but on reflection he agreed that this was needed. Of course, if the college had been tougher, he might not have been accepted. His math was poor and he didn't know how to write a paragraph. In fact it wasn't until the second day of his skill class that he knew what a paragraph was. Now he could write one.

Morales said he was no professional yet, "not by a long shot," but he was learning. When he was admitted, he thought a mistake had been made. He didn't think he was ready or prepared to be a professional: "It was like telling me I was going to be chief surgeon at Mt: Sinai. What the hell am I going to do with a scalpel in my hand? I might cut myself." But after the first competency (which he called "the orientation period"), he had realized that it was possible "to take your own experiences in life, your own true feeling, and if you want to make a contribution to the community you can." He had also discovered values he didn't know he had­for example, the way his religion affected his outlook. He added, "I was -- how do you say it? -- I was fatalistic. . . . I was willing to just let things be, but coming here I learned you can really change things." His wife tells him he has changed, that he doesn't explode at the children so much. He's more likely to listen instead of brushing them away. But things weren't going that well on the job. He was not sure he was cut out to be a teacher (his job placement was as a teacher's aide in an alternative high school). Maybe he would do better at counseling. But one could talk about the problems -- that was also a virtue of the college.

What distinguishes classes at the college is their attention to student field experiences; the common, cumulative curriculum tied to a series of student "constructive actions"; the subordination of disciplinary divisions of knowledge to the functional categories of the competency goals, and the lack of emphasis on reading or analysis of texts. Nothing is labeled psychology or sociology or economics. Many of the college's students, to be sure, would not know how to answer if asked whether they were learning any sociology. They are doing just that, of course, although not in a formal, structured sense. Adele Brody, a lawyer by training, teaches what in many sociology departments would be called a course on formal organizations. But the students do not read Seymour Martin Lipset, Peter Blau, or any of the other standard sources in this field. Brody distributes copies of agency budgets and teaches students how to read them to find out who makes decisions, or how informal struc­tures may block a decision that originates in formal channels. Com­paring the classes with those in sociology at Staten Island Commun­ity College, one student explained that "we are dealing with more realistic problems of people, of the agencies of the city." What did she mean by that? She replied, "To be effective in the situation. To analyze the client's problems -- to know what is realistic, what is not. How to deal with a particular client, know yourself, know your emotions. Once you're in the agency, how to feel it out. Know who to go to see to get something done."

The reading lists in the formal curriculum guides are impres­sive. Under Competency V (counseling), for example, seventy-one books are listed, from Samuel Butler to Thomas Szasz, and include Sigmund Freud, Erik Erikson, Haim Ginott, Albert Camus, Robert Coles, Arthur Janov, Carl Jung, Karl Marx, Abraham Maslow, Friedrich Nietzsche, Wilhelm Reich, Carl Rogers, William Shake­speare, B. F. Skinner, and Tennessee Williams. Even many doctoral students would not be at ease with the range of literature listed! This is no modest list of 100 great books; it is closer to 1,000 (if one adds all the competencies). But in actuality, traditional reading of this sort has a low priority. The students' acquaintance with books is painfully thin. Faculty members acknowledge this by assigning only short articles or chapters, seldom books. Frequently key passages are read in class, an open acknowledgment that not many have read the assignment. There are few written assignments or "bookish" de­mands. The college stresses action. Students have hectic schedules, and the faculty are overburdened themselves. (In one class a faculty member announced a standard written assignment to be completed over the weekend. A student outburst followed -- fists banged, there were loud groans and shouts of "We can't do it. No way!" The in­structor backed down, but after class admitted that the students had not exactly demonstrated "professional behavior." She resolved not to be intimidated a second time. )One class was lackluster and with­drawn when the instructor attempted to get students to discuss an article on teaching methods by Ronald Hyman, but when he left the text and asked students what they would do in a tutoring center for forty-two high school students on a day when ten volunteer college tutors did not show up, the discussion covered all the strategies that one would find among a group of student teachers at Hunter Col­lege or Berkeley.

An observer might recoil from the notion that students who have such cursory acquaintance with the books that ask some of the most profound and disturbing questions about the human condition can be certified as human service workers. But should one compare these students with some ideal, or with what the average nurse or primary school teacher knows of Rousseau or Shakespeare? Further­more, will reading Rousseau or Shakespeare improve their perfor­mance? Are not most liberal arts courses taught to students in social work and education chosen in an arbitrary way; do not they at best have only weak correlations with performance? Does not the foregoing disjunction between discussing Hyman and discussing what to do in a tutoring center simply confirm the Aristotelian dis­tinction between theoretical and practical wisdom? To know some­thing is not necessarily to be able to do it well. One cannot justify Rousseau or Shakespeare in relation to short-term rewards, even if one believes that traditional sources must be included in any profes­sional curriculum on the grounds that human life is impoverished without them.

What of more specialized or technical knowledge? A teacher of mathematics obviously needs to know mathematics. A pharma­cologist must understand certain branches of chemistry and biology. The college's position is that most specialized knowledge can be learned on the job. With no laboratories, the scientific knowledge imparted crucially depends on the resources devoted to students on the job, and here opportunities vary enormously.

Gladys King, a forty-five-year-old black student who interns as a counselor in an alternative high school in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, faces the problem common to many of the more able students at the college. In the competition for jobs, will she be better off if she trains for a specific position? She wants to be a counselor-teacher and has decided to take the necessary courses in a community college in the evening. Did she choose that avenue of training because she needed specific credentials or because she lacked knowledge to do the work she wanted to do?

"I really do need more academic preparation to feel educated as a whole person. Maybe it's a feeling of inadequacy on my part. I will probably end up doing the same work I am doing now [by which she meant counseling], but I would like to be a counselor­teacher. I need science courses, not more counseling courses. Also math courses. These are the courses I need to feel like a well-rounded person. To me a well-rounded person means an adequate person. So I can function better in my job. If I am asked to assist the math teacher or assist the science teacher, I would like to know that I am prepared for that."

Another area of technical knowledge that the college does not teach well would be called "tests and measurements" in a tradi­tional catalogue. The prejudice (which may be a fair prejudgment in some instances) that most of these tests are bad or ill-used is imparted to the students, but they are taught little that will allow them to be sophisticated critics or users of such tests. The college's ideology also infects discussions of modern social science. For exam­ple, in one class the findings of Coleman (1966) were lumped with other "social theories that blame the victim for not learning." A film on the community organizer Saul Alinsky presented him as a model to be emulated without question, and much of the discussion about him sounded like a testimonial. While the fault lies somewhat in ideological bias, it is also a reflection of the faculty's limited knowl­edge. There are no sociologists at the college who are likely to have read the full Coleman Report and secondary analyses of it, and the faculty's disciplinary training in social sciences is not strong. But it does shine in other areas: interviewing skills, group dynamics, a de­tailed knowledge of how human resources agencies in New York work, and explanations of new laws affecting client rights in many sectors. Thus a deputy director of a mental health agency was surprised that students from the college who had been on the job only a few months were familiar with court decisions affecting the mentally ill that professionals on his staff had not read. Moreover, the students saw in the decisions implications relevant to improving the treatment of patients in his facility. The college also employs an excellent staff to teach basic writing skills to students who enter with severe handicaps, in this area. Whenever possible, writing is taught in the context of reports or memos likely to be required on the job. During the first year students spend two hours a week in writing clinics. Some make extraordinary progress, but others do not, and poor writing ability is one of the most frequent criticisms one hears from supervisors of the college's students.

The best teaching grows out of the "constructive action" projects students must develop on the job. This kind of teaching -- the college's trademark -- is focused on clarifying and generalizing what is learned in the field and what needs to be learned in order to complete individual projects. Faculty sometimes grow weary, how­ever, of students who do little or no reading and who tend to dismiss a theoretical point or criticize a position without really understand­ing it. Such students must be convinced that although a theory may not have a specific, immediate application to a client with a prob­lem, it may be useful for understanding the role of the supervisor or the organizational setting in which one is working. Of course, much can be taught that does relate to the immediate, practical problem. The case method that has been so effective in training teachers, social workers, counselors, is utilized at the college for the study of real, rather than hypothetical, material.

In its attempt to push the pendulum of reform in the direc­tion of more humane service to clients, the college sometimes uses rhetoric reminiscent of quotations from Chairman Mao, and its appeals to the students to act as change agents may strike some ears like the slogans of agents provocateurs: "We cannot doubt that the Human Service Society will become a reality. A massive change in the use of human power is coming in this century, and we must prepare for it now. It will be a change as great as that which took individual workers out of their ground-floor shops and into the assembly lines. The industrial age swept a whole society away in its path. The Human Service Society will mean an equally sweeping change, but the motive force will be a concern for the quality of individual human life" (College for Human Services, 1974, p. I : xi) . But the day-to-day realities of the college, in contrast to the clarion calls in proposals to funding agencies, reflect a sober aware­ness that change usually comes a step at a time. A random sampling of student constructive action projects reveals the following quitemodest proposals: to organize a school library; to publicize the com­munity programs in the Henry Street Settlement House neighbor­hood; to open a "general store" in a high school selling pens, papers, and books to raise money for school teams and give students a sense of identity; to plan a program for the training of child care workers; to teach coworkers a simple vocabulary to converse by hand signals with deaf children; to make patients at Morrisania Hospital more aware of their rights.

The proposal to organize a school library competently de­scribed twelve tasks the student would perform, such as ordering and cataloging books and establishing a circulation flow. The student who wanted to plan a child care program needed a good deal of help. His folder included a confused miscellany of pamphlets -- one on child care from birth to age eighteen, another on alcoholism and drugs. The student showed little awareness that he would need to draw upon the skills of teachers, developmental psychologists, nu­tritionists, and others to plan such a program. The Morrisania Hospital proposal was more typical; it involved discovering and publicizing a variety of patient rights and benefits.

Just as the proposals are not as radical as the rhetoric, faculty do not insist in practice upon rigid application of the rule that the client is always right. Jose Morales, for instance, eventually became discouraged in his teaching at an alternative high school. With the support of his coordinating teacher, he resigned the job and transferred to another agency. Though he eventually did go back to the school at the request of other students and faculty, the experience left him seriously doubtful whether he should pursue the profession. On some occasions the students have learned their lessons so well that they have come close to losing their jobs. A Spanish­speaking student working in the emergency ward of the Morrisania Hospital pressed for treatment for a patient who had been turned away by the doctor in charge. Since the doctor remained adamant, she appealed to higher authority. Subsequently, he sought her dismissal.

Clearly, the kind of assessment one receives often depends on who does the assessing. The doctor we have just mentioned "failed" the student, but the patients and other lay professionals in the hos pital took her side. The college has tried to reflect this reality by establishing an assessment procedure in which clients, peers, super­visors, and faculty all participate, but in which the teacher makes the final decision. Assessment of constructive action proposals, written work, and on-the-job performance occur throughout the year, but the major evaluation comes with the year-end review of students. One year, the college's counseling staff and the agency supervisors were asked to fill out assessment forms responding to the dimensions of competence listed on the performance grid. Were students, for example, able to identify goals and understand systems? Nearly 90 percent of the agency supervisors returned the forms -- a remarkably high proportion. Faculty and counselors then discussed each student's case in an attempt to make an overall assessment. The process was stimulating but also frustrating, because different parties put different interpretations on the criteria, and judgments about the same student diverged widely. Sometimes it was difficult to secure and evaluate clients' assessments, and the sheer amount of paper generated was overwhelming. The feeling began to grow that the college would have to rent another floor just to store the assessment forms. The data included not only the rating sheets but the student's entire portfolio, which one faculty member compared to a 400-page novel. He thought he could read four or five portfolios in a morning, but found he could hardly get through one in that time. (Significantly, the forms not only pertain to stu­dents; the college faculty follows its own preaching on assessment, with one of the most thoroughgoing faculty assessment systems in use. Students complete elaborate faculty evaluation forms at the end of every competence period, and faculty observe one another in their classes and in their supervisory roles in the field.)

In the spring of 1976 attempts were made to "standardize" and simplify the student assessment process; but now another basic problem arose. Should students be assessed only on performance of a constructive action? What if the proposal fails utterly but the student learns a great deal from the experience? Does the faculty have absolute or relative notions of what constitutes a good performance? Is it fair to a student to "fail" him or her at the year-end review? Must such a student repeat the entire year? After listening to a faculty committee discuss these matters, an observer was impressed with the committee's willingness to discuss so candidly the difficulties of what they were attempting and to raise questions that challenged some of the core ideas of the program.

In contrast to the elusive measures found on the assessment forms, faculty members use unambiguous indicators of performance when they talk informally about students they are supervising: Do they get to work regularly and on time? Do they participate in class and complete assignments? Can they write? Do they dress, look, and act like professionals? Are they serious and motivated? Perhaps it is a mistake to cast the language of assessment in the same language as the teaching goals of the program; a simpler set of terms might work better.

Sometimes real differences of opinion arise between faculty and agency supervisors. A supervisor at a social work agency told me that she considered three of the four students assigned to her to be unlikely candidates for professional status. They had serious de­ficiencies in reading, writing, and analytical skills. When the faculty member suggested that their greater empathy and understanding of clients should compensate for their deficiencies, the supervisor re­plied quite firmly that "just having lived is not enough." She in­sisted that sophisticated diagnostic skills were required to analyze the difficulties of problem families and write the reports demanded by the city agencies. When pressed further, the supervisor replied that a student's failure to write the reports well would mean addi­tional burdens on the agency. As to diagnostic skills, she felt that three of the college's students were below bachelor's degree expecta­tions and certainly not up to the level of a social worker with a master's degree who would be expected to "know enough about therapy to try to evoke the neurotic patterns that parents were afflicted with that led them to child abuse or whatever."

At another agency, the Keener Clinic, supervisors felt that the college's students might be at the bachelor's level, but not the master's, on two grounds: Their basic writing and math skills were low, and they lacked specialized knowledge. For example, the col­lege's students would not know enough about psychological testing to administer and interpret a battery of tests. Could such skills be taught on the job? Yes, but more time would be required on the agency's part, and students would need stronger basic skills.

Reinforcing this view of deficiencies at the college, the New York Department of Education in 1975 rejected the college's appli­cation for authority to grant the master's degree, principally on the ground that this degree would not be built upon a bachelor's pro­gram. The college again responded in some of the same ways as it had in 1968, seeking other avenues of support and trying to demon­strate that its students would have the equivalent of a bachelor's de­gree. But it also tried another tactic. Since the model could not be sold in New York, why not export it? Audrey Cohen obtained a grant to disseminate the college's program and began consulting at several colleges in California, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. Lincoln University in Pennsylvania expressed considerable interest. In 1976, its faculty, with the approval of the associate commissioner of higher education in Pennsylvania, approved a program modeled after the College for Human Services, although its exit requirements included a core academic program as well as standardized tests (Lincoln University, 1976). At this writing it appears that the acceptance of the model in Pennsylvania may improve the likelihood of its approval in New York, where the college resubmitted its application in early 1977, making distinctions in its program be­tween the bachelor's and master's degrees. A branch of the college established in Florida was granted authority to award the master's degree in June 1977.

Reflections and Recommendations

Although the College for Human Services stands in this volume as an illustration of a competence-based reform, it is clear that this is but one of the many strands of reform the college has planned and encouraged. The other strands include devising new roles for faculty, granting access to the most deprived groups of students, and seeking to reform some professions by making assessment depend on the judgment of the client as much as on that of fellow professionals.

There are a multitude of contexts in which one could analyze the significance of these reforms attempted by the College for Human Services. One could challenge its most basic premise of the need for a "human service" society on the grounds that it makes more sense to strengthen the family through direct grant programs than to enlarge the army of paid professionals who perform family­like functions. But complex modern societies cannot do without bureaucracies, and few persons would disagree with the aim of making them more responsive to human needs. Although the college has rejected the term "paraprofessional" to describe its graduates because the term has come to mean a restriction of opportunities, there is a sense in which it has indeed hastened the development of needed paraprofessional resources. "Para-" can mean "near" or "alongside," as well as "subsidiary to." The college fosters a leav­ening of the professions, some of which have severely and arbitrarily restricted entry, and it seeks to supply, in the human services, the analogue of the physician associate, or paradoctor, in medical practice. The difficulties of establishing these roles and new perfor­mance measures within the framework of the various professions that the college places under the mantle of "human services" are, of course, enormous. But the achievements of the college, begun by amateurs in rented quarters on short-cycle budgets, are remarkable.

The program took ten years to develop. Not a long time as historians would measure it, but much longer than most contempo­rary American educational innovators are willing to wait: they expect to have committee meetings this month and a revolution next semester, even though most of the significant innovations in Ameri­can education have not been successfully developed and institu­tionalized in less than a decade. Some of the college's faculty mem­bers have come and gone, but a core has remained. Audrey Cohen, whose tenure really began in 1964, was still president as of 1979; by contrast, the average term for college presidents is now less than five years.

While questions remain as to the adequacy of the faculty's training in the disciplines, few departmentally organized faculties could have sustained such a complex developmental process. Con ventional disciplinary ambitions had to be abandoned by a faculty willing to devote itself for a decade to the task of testing the emerging ideas about a performance-based curriculum. It might have been possible to maintain the esprit of the college's faculty members within a larger university, particularly if they were organized as a subcollege or semiautonomous unit to protect their very different reward systems and forms of organization, but it could only have been done with great difficulty.

What does account for the high morale? Salaries are low, fringe benefits minimal, the workweek long, the academic year a full calendar year. The College for Human Services began as a volunteer college built with the talents of gifted women who worked full time for part-time salaries. Faculty were attracted by the ideals of the college, its sense of social mission, and its visible human accomplishments as students moved off welfare and began to rise in responsible jobs. The college also exemplifies the wisdom of thinking big but starting small. Its fundamental aim-to establish a performance-based and job-related curriculum designed to deliver improved service to clients-involved complex networks of funding sources, dozens of city agencies, supplementary task forces, and research consultants. But because the scale was small -- never more than 200 students and about 20 faculty -- the program was manageable. The faculty could meet as a committee of the whole, with the maximum opportunity for communication. Each new wrinkle of the common curriculum was tested and appraised by all. Collegial learning was maximized. Visitors and consultants were plied with practical questions about the next step in the curriculum development process. The faculty had a keen sense of the college's history and seemed to enjoy talking over earlier stages in the developmental process.

Though idealistic reformers, faculty members were resilient in the face of not infrequent setbacks-"hardheaded do-gooders," if you will. When students slipped, faculty were not crushed. Nor did they allow themselves to be defeated by the always present gap between hopes and outcomes. The practical, job-related realities of the program helped to protect them from the rigidities of their own rhetoric.

Underlying all the talk about competent performance was a true religious sense of dedication. Most faculty members recoiled at sloppy, uncaring performance. Their desire to restore idealism to service was a blend of the puritanism and evangelism typically found in reformers. Written materials sound like epistles to shore up lonely missionaries. The college asks for a commitment to its "way," to the belief that in service and in giving one will be reborn. The college asks this commitment even of visiting researchers, whom it would like to use to spread the word about its good works. The college also sees such researchers as potential converts to the form of education and assessment that it considers necessary for the creation of a new professional, social, and intellectual world.

The college can point to major accomplishments in its first decade. It has established itself, surmounted internal crises and strikes, invented a new curriculum, survived harrowing cutbacks in funds for the human services in New York, extended political support networks locally and nationally, and drawn together a faculty dedicated to its vision of social change. Yet in the decade to come, the college will face critical problems. It must find a way to sustain the morale of students whose jobs do not match the college's hopes, to refine the knowledge base that underlies its performance-based program, and to rationalize its proposed new degree structure to skeptical external audiences.

Although at present nearly one third of the college's students have had some college and fewer have been on welfare, most still face a radical transition as they leave homebound roles to meet the demands of both college and a new job-a total workweek of fifty hours or more. It is doubtful that many could survive that transition without the structure that the college's core curriculum provides or the support on the job that faculty furnish as both advocates and supervisors. The practical, step-by-step nature of the CHS "performance grid" has holding power for many of these students. Yet the curriculum of constructive actions also creates role conflicts of major proportions. Students are asked to become change agents, not just to hold their own as they learn the ropes, but to transform the professions by creating one that as yet is undefined. To have been chosen by the college was a major boost in confidence for most students, and for many the curriculum is a transforming experience. But they encounter serious obstacles in trying to adjust the college's hopes to the realities of the marketplace. Few attain jobs at the professional level, and, without degrees, all enter the job market at a disadvantage. Theoretically, it should be possible for mature adults with some college experience to earn a master's degree in two years in an intensive apprentice-study program. In practice, however, there are some serious objections that the college will need to meet:

First, the college will have to offer different degrees for different levels of competence, and distinctions will be difficult to make. Student placements, of course, vary greatly according to the level of the student's work, and the opportunities for learning on the job are also uneven -- a problem that has been exacerbated by cutbacks in agency supervisory personnel.

Second, the college must assure the validity of its assessment system. The program specifies that students must "function" as counselors or teachers, but there is disagreement about what con stitutes an adequate level of functioning. The problem is com­pounded by the conflating of personality and characterological values in a number of competency statements. For example, as part of the counseling competency, students are told to "demonstrate in counseling practice that you are flexible, tough, willing to risk yourself, resilient in the face of difficulty, optimistic and able to remain focused in confused or emotional situations." To some degree, all programs preparing teachers or social workers share similar difficulties in setting standards. No program can avoid sub­jective measures, nor would it be desirable to do so. But at the College for Human Services the subjective nature of the assessments is not offset by any nationally standardized measures or achievement tests. In adapting the college's program, Lincoln University in Pennsylvania required that students pass national undergraduate record exams at the level achieved by its college seniors, take mathematics proficiency exams, and complete a series of standard courses in psychology, sociology, statistics, and other subjects, in addition to demonstrating the eight competencies listed on the performance grid.

Third, the college must show that a generic degree in the human services will allow its students to enter a declining market in the face of competition from students with traditional preparation in such specific fields as psychology, education, and social work. It remains to be seen how well College for Human Services students can make their way outside the specific placements the college has negotiated for them as part of the training process. However, if they were armed with an accredited master's degree, it seems likely that some would be able to create new positions, as the college and its graduates have done in the past. Much will depend on the climate of client assessment that the college, among others, is able to create.

Fourth, the college needs to distinguish variations in perfor­mance and then tie them to degree levels. No one who has inter­viewed the college's students over the course of their two-year pro gram would doubt that most who stay for the full course make extraordinary progress. However, they begin from different base­lines and progress at different rates. A few do reach levels that seem equivalent to those of students with master's degrees from elsewhere -- the degree seldom indicates high proficiency in America. Some are prepared for more useful and interesting work than they would otherwise qualify for, but do not go much beyond the para­professional level. Others perhaps attain the equivalent of the bachelor's degree. The college has lengthened its program from thirty weeks a year to fifty and has raised its entrance levels so that more students now enter with at least some college. It has also at­tempted to distinguish between bachelor's and master's degrees -- it has dropped the associate degree -- and has not been sentimental in its judgments about the competence of its master's candidates. Of 113 students who enrolled in the first "master's program" class in 1974, 76 were certified as having completed the first year, and 63 of these were hired for a second year by the agency in which they had been placed. Of that number, 58 were admitted to a second college year, and 51 won permanent positions in agencies in 1976. But in its petition to Albany for degree-granting powers, the faculty recommended only 12 of the original 113 students for the master's degree and 5 for the bachelor's; 10 students were classified as needing more time to complete all the "constructive actions" before a judgment could be made. Whether any college could continue with such low degree-completion rates is doubtful.

Finally, the invention of the college's performance grid was a genuine breakthrough for the faculty, but the task of "filling in the boxes" or showing the connections between theory and practice is an ambitious one. The college has a small faculty, and although it now has a few Ph.D.s where formerly it had none, the disciplinary training of the faculty has little depth. Like teachers in the normal schools of an earlier day, or law schools before they began hiring the college's faculty are practitioners, not scholars. Most do not regard the disciplines as irrelevant, but they are skeptical that any particular knowledge base underlies performance in the human services. Their refusal to equate a list of courses with competence is admirable, and the college's performance grid has become a filter through which the faculty can search the disciplines for useful knowledge. That search is infused with an evangelical commitment to social change, a commitment that sometimes leads, however, to a debunking of what is not fully understood. The result is the develop­ment of a curriculum that, though at points truncated and even anti-intellectual, is nonetheless dynamic. The unresolved issue for the college is the question of how deeply the faculty itself needs to be grounded in the disciplines in order to make an intelligent search and to distinguish values from ideology.2 Not every faculty member at the college needs a standard Ph.D. -- far from it. But the faculty could benefit from a better mix of scholars and practitioners than it now has. Because the College for Human Services has achieved some recognition for the genuine advances it has made, it may be more willing and financially able to seek better trained faculty; however, whether or not it expands its faculty, the tension between knowledge and action will remain. Audrey Cohen would probably sympathize with Arthur Morgan of Antioch, who said, toward the end of his distinguished career, that he wished he had been more ruthless in eliminating faculty who "came here to teach [their] subject" and did not share his vision of the college as a "revolution" and "a way of life" (Clark, 1970, p. 40). Yet, as at Antioch, some faculty are both grounded in the disciplines and committed to social change. They demonstrate in their own work the competence of constructive action that the college expects not only of its graduates but of all professionals.


Notes:

1 Detailed information about events at the College for Human Services can be found in its annual reports, and this chapter makes use of the reports issued between 1968 and 1972. For statistical data on such matters as income and completion rates of the college's students, see Hack, 1973.

2 Ideology does not here mean a conscious deception or lie, but what Karl Mannheim called the "cant mentality" that fails to uncover the incon­gruities in thought in "response to certain vital-emotional interests." See Mannheim, 1955, p. 195. To be aware of the danger of ideology in this sense is to recall Max Weber's assertion that "the primary task of a useful teacher is to teach his students to recognize `inconvenient' facts-I mean facts that are inconvenient for their party opinions." See Gerth and Mills, 1946, p. 146.