ASSESSMENT AT SACRAMENTO STATE
According to the university policy manual “Assessment at CSUS is a University wide unit based process to determine how well and in what ways individual units and the University are meeting their individual and collective goals”. Knowing how well we are doing the things we intend to do is useful for two primary purposes. First, measuring progress toward our identified goals provides us with information that is essential to improving what we do. Second, it provides important accountability information to a larger audience. As a public institution committed to post secondary education it is incumbent upon us to provide various stakeholders with information about our progress in accomplishing those goals we have identified as important.
Academic Program Assessment
Academic program assessment is a continuous process with the overarching purpose of improving student learning. Thus it is based on establishing a set of critical student learning outcomes and evaluating how well our students are meeting those outcomes. Such information will help us decide what to continue doing and what to change in order to help our students achieve those critical learner outcomes. Academic program assessment is an ongoing process that facilitates continuous program improvement. At Sacramento State academic program assessment occurs on multiple levels.
- Assessment Plans: Departments and other campus units have developed assessment plans which contain the following elements: goals of the department and/or expected learning outcomes for students, methods for assessing progress toward these learning outcomes and a time table for the assessment process.
- Unit Level Assessment: Programs engage in their own in-house assessment on a regular basis. These types of assessment may reflect both university goals as well as the unique needs of a particular department. Such assessment also includes course evaluations.
- Annual Assessment Report: On an annual basis programs are asked to provide Academic Affairs with a report on assessment activities that have occurred during the past academic year. These reports should identify goals and/or learning outcomes that were targeted for assessment, measures used to evaluate progress toward those goals, what the results of these measures tell the department about its program and changes made or planned in response to the results. Departments are not expected to assess progress on all goals or objectives each year. Rather the purpose of annual assessments is to develop a re-occurring assessment cycle that will facilitate continuous review of the program and progress toward identified learner outcomes.
- Program Review Each department on campus undertakes an extensive program review every six years. Departments that are required to provide a review for an outside accrediting agency do not need to complete the full program review. Rather they are asked to supplement their accreditation document with any information required as part of the CSUS program review that may not be a part of their accreditation review. As part of the program review process, departments are asked to use assessment data to evaluate how well students are meeting department learning expectations, University learning goals, writing and reading standards in the major and computer/information competence standards.
The obligation for assessment of student learning comes from many internal and external constituencies, including the U. S. Department of Education, The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (our regional accrediting body), the California State University system, and Sacramento State. All are responding to the call for universities and schools to engage in a process of continual self-examination and reflection with the goal of improvement. As an institution of higher education we, along with universities and colleges nationwide, are being asked to demonstrate to these agencies and to our public that our students have achieved identified learning outcomes. In essence, this is what is meant by accountability.