Higher Education Accountability Framework Released
- Mark McNutt
- Mark McNutt
Princeton, N.J. (February 11, 2008) —
Educational Testing Service (ETS) today announced the release of Culture of Evidence: An Evidence-Centered Approach to Accountability for Student Learning Outcomes. The final white paper of a three-part series, Culture of Evidence III (COE III) lays out a seven-step framework for institutions of higher education to create, modify or improve an evidence-based accountability system that assesses student learning outcomes.
The report comes at a time when education policymakers, prospective students and parents are seeking greater accountability to assess student learning outcomes and educational value in higher education. Concurrently, colleges and universities are working to apply measures that meet the demand for such accountability, while maintaining their institutional autonomy. COE III addresses this balance and recommends actions that allow an institution to make assessment a part of its ongoing effort to improve overall learning and educational quality.
“The COE III framework describes a systematic approach to the development and refinement of a campus-based approach for assessing student learning outcomes,” says David Payne, ETS Associate Vice President, Higher Education Division. “The framework is completely consistent with the calls for accountability, while respecting variations in achieving learning goals that characterize the U.S. higher education system.”
Payne points out that the seven-step process advocated in COE III values the autonomy of institutions and faculty. The framework emphasizes the importance of respecting each college and university’s mission, the populations they serve and the aspirations of institutions and students.
“The COE III framework encourages colleges and universities to reflect on what aspirations they have for their students, and then to provide evidence that indicates how well they are meeting those goals,” he adds. “Ultimately, it’s about improving the overall learning experience for students. And that’s something on which everyone should agree.”
Across the nation, the impetus to create a stronger culture of accountability for student achievement has been met with both enthusiasm and apprehension. For faculty and institutional leaders who are grappling with the often delicate nuances inherent in assessing student learning, a sensible solution to meet accountability demands is essential.
“Schools are looking for practical measures to advance student learning that reflect and respect the diversity of students, faculty and the institutions themselves,” says Paul Lingenfelter, President, State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO), and COE III advisory panel member. “In addition to providing this essential flexibility, the Culture of Evidence series employs the logic and methods of scholarly research. This will give the COE III seven-step framework the credibility essential for its acceptance and utilization by both faculty and administrators.”
The seven-step framework provides a comprehensive outline of action items for each phase:
- Articulate desired student learning outcomes
- Perform assessment audit
- Perform assessment augmentation
- Refine assessment system
- Define knowledge gained from previous steps
- Ensure student learning success
- Maintain a culture of evidence
With guidance from the independent Culture of Evidence advisory panel, Culture of Evidence: An Evidence-Centered Approach to Accountability for Student Learning Outcomes was researched and written over a period of six months. The panel comprises leading educators, researchers and education policy advocates.
Culture of Evidence I, published in 2006, defined and surveyed the accountability landscape from education, policy and cultural perspectives. Released in June 2007, Culture of Evidence II reviewed the 12 major assessment tools in use today and encouraged colleges and universities to begin the discussion about student learning outcomes by asking questions rather than simply selecting assessment tools.
To learn more about accountability in higher education or to review Culture of Evidence: An Evidence-Centered Approach to Accountability for Student Learning Outcomes or any of the reports in the Culture of Evidence series visit www.ets.org/cultureofevidence.
ETS, a nonprofit organization, celebrates a 60-year history of advancing quality and equity in education by providing fair and valid assessments, research and related services for all people worldwide. In serving individuals, educational institutions and government agencies around the world, ETS customizes solutions to meet the need for teacher professional development products and services, classroom and end-of-course assessments, and research-based teaching and learning tools. ETS today develops, administers and scores more than 50 million assessments in over 180 countries, at more than 9,000 locations worldwide.