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Excellence in Assessment Designations

In October 2015, APLU joined with three other higher education organizations to announce the creation of a new national designation program for colleges and universities that demonstrate excellence in student learning outcomes assessment to drive internal improvement and further student success. The Excellence in Assessment (EIA) program – the first national initiative of its kind – will recognize institutions that successfully integrate assessment practices across campus, provide evidence of student learning outcomes, and use assessment results to guide institutional decision-making and improve student performance.

Full details on the Excellence in Assessment Designations are available on the NILOA website.

The EIA Designations provide a systematic and nationally recognized evaluation of colleges and universities based on best practices in campus-wide assessment.  Institutions working to implement and sustain comprehensive use of assessment of student learning outcomes in at least written communication and critical thinking are eligible to receive the Designations.

The Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA), a public college and university transparency initiative led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) unveiled the EIA program.  The Designations were the joint conception of APLU, AASCU, the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) and the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA). 

The EIA Designations are built directly from NILOA’s Transparency Framework, and they are the first national program designed to recognize institutions engaging in intentional campus-wide assessment.  Evaluation for the designations includes a rigorous and systematic self-study and peer review by assessment experts, enabling campuses to improve their effectiveness and allow sharing of best practices.

Designees will be awarded in two tiers, depending on the phase of their institutional assessment development.

  • Excellence Designees are institutions demonstrating strong leadership and commitment to building or re-building a culture of evidence-based decision-making centered on the use of campus-level assessment results. Excellence campuses may, for example, already have in place the building blocks of widespread program assessment, but are taking the next steps to integrate their use of student learning outcomes to inform campus decision-making. Alternatively, Excellence campuses may already complete most of the steps of assessing student learning at the campus level, but are intentionally addressing gaps in their alignment or processes.
  • Sustained Excellence Designees are institutions that have maintained and/or evolved their integrated campus-level student learning outcomes assessment over a period of five (5) or more years. Sustained Excellence campuses have a solid foundation and track record of integration of assessment data from across campus and of using assessment results to guide campus programs and curriculum.



The Excellence in Assessment (EIA) program is now accepting applications for the 2019 designee class! Building on the foundation of reporting student learning outcomes assessment results and processes developed in collaboration with the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA), the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), and the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U), EIA recognizes institutions for their efforts in intentional integration of campus-level learning outcomes assessment. Over the past three years, over 20 institutions have been recognized for their Excellence in Assessment. If your institution is involved in exemplary assessment practice, please review the application packet and the accompanying rubric that evaluators will use to assess the merit of each application, and submit all materials to by May 6, 2019

Full details on the Excellence in Assessment Designations can be found on the NILOA website.

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