Assessment & Accountability

Over at Academic Commons, my first post is up: It’s about the so-called Voluntary System of Accountability being promulgated by the American Association of State Colleges & Universities (AASCU) and the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC) in response to the Spellings Commission.

Inasmuch as the VSA program relies on standardized testing to assess general education / liberal arts outcomes, I have misgivings about its utility.  And since it’s trying to capture “value-added” education, the problem of student motivation seems insoluble: The VSA methodology suggests testing random samples of first-year and senior students.  But, almost by definition, the assessment can’t be part of the student’s grade for the class.  Why any senior would take this seriously is beyond me.

Having said that, I’m probably a little bit more sanguine about the public reporting of assessment data than some colleagues.  On the one hand, I’ll admit that too much federal control of this would be disastrous; on the other hand, I do think that colleges have been so high-handed about the sanctity of their mission, and so blithely confident in the effectiveness of their methods, that unconventional methods are called for.

Anyway, read the whole thing there.

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