| This page presents:
Design & Structure
to Teaching/Learning Improvements
Policy Design & Structure
Have a Clear & Focused Purpose
Having a precisely defined vision for the form assessment will take
and the purposes it will serve at all levels of higher education assists
the policy development process. Also, policymakers and institutions
will benefit from knowing the rationale for establishing a policy
and its accompanying requirements, and they will be more apt to work
towards a process that has definite goals.
is the best example of this, as virtually all institutions possess
the same understanding of the goals for the state's policy and priorities
for higher education.
is an example of a state that has proceeded for nearly 20 years
without a clearly defined policy and as a result, has struggled
to bring its disparate assessment activities under a coherent vision
of state needs and requirements.
Limit Structures & Mechanisms
to accomplish too much will yield a policy that achieves very little.
Directed change is a slow process and given the complexity of higher
education at the institutional and state levels, the coordination
required to produce effective policy will only allow personnel at
al levels to focus meaningfully on a narrow set of goals and processes
at any given time.
has been working under a set of policies that sometimes combine
to leave institutions unclear about where to direct their energies,
and leave policymakers frustrated at the slow pace of change.
Policy Must Provide Data Useful to Institutional
policy that provides data that are meaningful and useful to academic
managers and faculty will find greater acceptance than one that demands
information without regard as to how it improves internal institutional
must be incorporated into institutional management.
Emphasize Institutional Improvement
assessment policy will benefit from having administrators and faculty
to take ownership of the process. This allows assessment to become
incorporated into institutional management.
Differentiate by Sector/Mission
differentiating can lead to disagreements over assessment standards
and indicators by institutional type or mission. Institutions in South
Carolina, Florida, and Missouri challenged their state's policy for
comparing them to other institutions using the same standards and
Embrace Simpler, Rather than Complex, Indicator/Reporting
are better off attempting to do more with less in terms
of indicators and outcomes.
a system with 20, 30, 50, or more indicators may become cumbersome
and expensive to monitor, and it ishard for stakeholders to see that
they lead to improvement.
Carolina executives have decided to focus on fewer indicators and
implement fewer reporting requirements. Missouri officials decided
to scale their system down to 10 indicators because of the difficulty
in managing the data, and Washington and Florida have started their
systems with a small number of priorities on which to gather data.
are typically interested in measures of productivity and efficiency,
and focusing on a few of these could lead to other efficiencies.
systems with too many indicators accomplish less because institutions
spend a great deal of time and energy complying with the requirements.
Sustained Commitment of Leadership
leadership committed to the idea of developing and implementing a
policy that accomplishes state objectives and serves institutions
l eadership keeps the policy actors on task when the process becomes
difficult or murky, and also provides some stability over time as
legislators, assessment directors, and government personnel change.
is also critical when it comes time to revisit the policy and determine
Missouri Assessment Consortium provides an innovative and critical
form of leadership in its state as it facilitates communications
between policy actors, while the coordinating board in the state
has also been very proactive in promoting assessment. The board
in Washington has also been active as a mediator between the institutions
and the legislature.
Develop Policy in Consultation with Institutions
institutions affords them the opportunity to declare what data are
most critical to their operations.
policy on outcomes associated with the needs and processes of colleges
and universities. The end goal of assessment policies is the betterment
of institutions and all of higher education.
outcomes without attending to internal processes only serves to frustrate
administrators and irritate academic managers.
Have Statewide Discussions About Assessment
process can be as, if not more important, than its eventual results.
institutional representatives, policymakers, and business and civic
leaders together to debate or determine the priorities for higher
education and the purposes for assessment can be quite beneficial
even if no policy evolves from the discussions.
policy actors emerge with a clearer understanding of the perspectives,
realities, and needs of the others and also leave with a better grasp
on assessment at the state level.
Manage Stakeholder Inputs
it is useful for policymakers to receive input from differing stakeholders,
their involvement in the formal policy development process should
to involve too many individuals and groups may lead to an unfocused
an example, community colleges in Florida have seven different reporting
requirements because of seven distinct entities that require them
to submit data. These provisions were not all instituted at the
same time but have accumulated as new requirements for data emerged.
Thus, there is duplication of effort in the policy.
managed to incorporate input from different sectors across the state
as policies options were considered, but became efficient about
identifying who would be involved in making final decisions.
Plan to Overcome Resistance
important consideration here is how to manage any resistance so that
all sides come to understand one another more clearly.
lines of communication open among all policy actors can help them
overcome the uncertainty and difficulty of the situation.
and South Carolina are two states in which trust and credibility
eroded as their performance funding system were developed when institutions
did not act in good faith when responding to state requests. It
has taken time and active participation from the coordinating boards
in these states to work through these difficulties so that the policies
could be successfully implemented. Addressing institutional concerns
was key to the process.
Institutions Must Be Willing to Form Working
Relationships with State Officials
will benefit if institutions take time to help them understand the
complexity of higher education and its differences from, as well as
similarities to K-12 education.
the diverse missions, student bodies, and structures of higher education
institutions, it is unlikely that any one policy tool will accurately
reflect the institutional differences that cause outcomes to vary.
Applying standardized criteria, performance targets, or evaluation
criteria to all institutions will be unfair to some institutions and
overly generous to others.
is here to stay. Institutional administrators should work to make
policies more useful and less cumbersome.
New Policies May Not Replace Old Ones
implementing and maintaining a successful assessment policy eventually
becomes an ongoing process.
As new polices
are added, old ones need to be evaluated. Revisiting policies periodically
ensures that they are relevant to institutions and serving state needs.
directives without revisiting old ones can lead to a policy of accretion,
whereby overlapping and duplicative policies can be enacted, creating
a burden on institutions.
1. Policy Context for Assessment Shapes Process and
2. Process Forces Articulation of Principles on all
3. Culture of Institutions Can be Changed If The
Process Contributes to Mgt
4. Stakeholders at All Levels Must Be Engaged with
5. Political Will is Required for Success
6. Policies Will Result In Improved Data Systems
Making Assessment Institution-centered
Having Institutions Share Data on Learning
Revisiting Indicators Regularly
Closing Information Loop
Focused Goals at Different Institutional Levels