Higher Education Accountability for Student Learing

Title: Higher Education Accountability for Student Learning

Author/Publisher: National Governor's Association (NGA)

Bibliographic Reference:

URL: http://www.nga.org/Files/pdf/0702HIGHERED.PDF

Summary

Each year, states spend collectively more than $70 billion to support higher education, but governors and the public do not have accessible, useful information about what students learn as a result of their time in college. Without reliable information about postsecondary learning outcomes, policymakers can not determine which investments or strategies are most cost-effective, and students, families, and employers do not have information that can improve their decisions about the quality of different providers of higher education.
Governors can help restrain college costs—while extending a quality postsecondary education to a larger segment of the population—by insisting that student learning outcomes become an integral part of state higher education accountability systems. Governors can help build accountability systems that distinguish between state-level and institutional standards and assessments, while providing support for each. State-level accountability systems need to focus on aggregate statewide objectives for postsecondary education, whereas institutional systems can reflect institution-specific priorities. Specifically, governors can:
• Call for the development of minimum general educational learning outcomes for undergraduates educated at a public college or university, and require assessment of these outcomes. There is already a good deal of consensus among institutions about these goals; gubernatorial involvement can help elevate this consensus into a stronger tool for public accountability and enhanced institutional performance. These learning objectives may be stated as a set of common undergraduate competencies that all students must demonstrate, such as strong analytical, communication, quantitative, and information skills.
• Require student competencies to be assessed and publicly reported through appropriate metrics, such as a combination of statewide sampling and institutional assessments.

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