National Center for Higher Education Management Systems

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Assessment, Accountability, and Improvement: Revisiting the Tension

Title: Assessment, Accountability, and Improvement: Revisiting the Tension
Author: Ewell, Peter T.
Date: 2009
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Description: Many of the same tensions that characterized the accountability and improvement purposes of student learning outcomes assessment when the assessment movement began in the mid-1980s still exist today. In this paper I examine these tensions and how they can be managed, if not completely resolved. First, I outline the major relevant changes affecting the assessment movement that have occurred in higher education over the past two decades. These include the perceived legitimacy of assessment today, the demand by policymakers for better and more transparent information about student and institutional performance, the press by accreditors on institutions to collect and use student learning outcomes data, and the availability of more and better assessment instruments and approaches.

Available for free from the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA).