Sunday, February 12, 2006

Value-Added Assessment in Higher Ed

Richard H. Hersh, Senior Fellow at RAND, delivered a paper at the AAHE National Assessment Conference, Denver-June 15, 2004 entitled Assessment And Accountability: Unveiling Value Added Assessment In Higher Education. In the paper Hersh does a good job laying out the rationale for rigorous assessment in higher education. He does a good job anticipating and addressing many of the concerns colleges and universities are likely to have with such a proposal. In the paper Hersh deals with:

  • Phase I: Experimentation, Incentives, and Rewards
    • Faculty need a chance to address assessment efforts as a scholarly effort. Pick a program to evaluate and use the process to help faculty work throught the entire process of creating expectations, implementing the curriculum as intended, and measuring outcomes consistently.
  • Phase II: Development and Diffusion
    • Transparency in programs and outcomes could be particularly important to state-funded universities. In states with tight budgets and declining support for higher education, clarity around the value added by university and college education could be a powerful force for supporting continued investmente. (The same goes for K-12 education.)
  • Phase III: Comprehensive Assessment System Development and Implementation
    • Assessment in general education and within majors collected within institutions. Samples of data could also be shared across institutions (within systems for example) to allow a school to evaluate how a particular program implemented elsewhere might affect outcomes locally.
  • Phase IV: Value Added Data Used to Inform Institutional and State Policy
    • Faculty reward structures (particularly in non-research institutions) could be adjusted to reward programs and practices that delivered higher student value-added outcomes. It would also be possible to evaluate different institutional forms (traditional liberal arts, more applied programs, virtual schools, etc.).


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