Assessment has become the great challenge of educational institutions. As a term, it may be misunderstood. As a process, it requires commitment to sustain.
Good assessment is useful and meaningful. Good assessment processes are self-perpetuating and integral to institutional change and renewal.
Assessment does not mean
In fact, it is unethical to use assessment results for the purposes of faculty, administrative, or staff evaluation.
To ensure that an institution’s assessment is valid and meaningful, assessment must be a process that is comprehensive, integrated, and sustained.
First, assessment is comprehensive when it takes into account all levels and all branches of the institution:
Second, assessment is integrated when there is a clear, conceptual alignment among objectives at different but related levels of the institution. For example, the objectives of courses supporting a curriculum should be consonant with the objectives of that curriculum, which in turn should be consonant with the general education objectives that all graduating students are supposed to attain. Alternatively, administrative goals in any one office or division should be consonant with the corresponding strategic planning goals for that division, which in turn should be consonant with the corresponding component of the mission statement.
Third, assessment is sustained when the institution at each level has agreed to a timetable for the assessments that occur at each level. The timetable has set priorities for which areas are assessed regularly and which areas are assessed more periodically. In other words, there is a clear rationale within each area for the timetable of assessment, and everyone involved has a clear idea of his or her responsibilities in that timetable of assessment.
Assessment—which is everyone’s concern—is achieved most efficiently when it is a collaborative effort on the broadest possible scale. When it works at that level of collaboration, assessment can be the engine for innovation and improvement of the institution. At the same time, assessment is not only about continuous improvement; it is also the means by which an institution can affirm that both institutional and student learning outcomes are meeting defined or projected expectations.
Beyond the context of the institution itself, colleges belong to regional accrediting bodies that are intended to ensure that, through peer review, institutions meet general standards of educational excellence. The regional body to which Queensborough belongs is the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the Commission has 14 standards of excellence by which it evaluates institutional effectiveness. For assessment, the two most pertinent standards are standard 7 on institutional assessment and standard 14 on the assessment of student learning.
Academic Program Review