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Twelve Colleges & Universities Named as 2020 Excellence in Assessment Designees

Washington, D.C.— Twelve exemplary colleges and universities today were named Excellence in Assessment designees for their commitment to the comprehensive assessment of student learning outcomes as a means to drive internal improvement and advance student success at the institution-level. The Excellence in Assessment (EIA) designation is the first national designation of its kind, spotlighting institutions that successfully integrate assessment practices across an institution, providing evidence of student learning, and using assessment results to guide institutional decision-making and improve student performance. Now in its fifth year, a total of 39 institutions have received the designation, including this year’s class.

The 2020 Excellence in Assessment designees include three Sustained Excellence Designee recipients that have sustained their exemplary assessment efforts over a five-year period, and nine Excellence in Assessment designees, which recognize the use of comprehensive student learning outcomes to improve student success across the institution.

Sustained Excellence

  • McKendree University
  • Miami Dade College
  • University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Excellence in Assessment

  • Davenport University
  • East Carolina University
  • Florida A&M University
  • Messiah University
  • Northwestern State University
  • Oregon Health and Science University
  • University of Florida
  • University of Texas at Arlington
  • Wayne State University

“The Excellence in Assessment Designation is the first national, jointly sponsored designation to recognize institutions moving assessment of student learning from a compliance exercise to one of meaningful engagement. It highlights the use of evidence of student learning across the entirety of the university setting, involving a variety of stakeholders including students, employers, and student affairs.” said Natasha Jankowski, NILOA Executive Director.

“Congratulations to each of the designees. By integrating assessment into the fabric of their institutions, they have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to fostering student success both inside and outside of the classroom,” said AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella.

“We continue to be impressed with the strength of applications. EIA designees are telling their assessment story using tailored, nuanced, student-centered narratives that it provides the field with such different models of assessment approaches and practices within different institutional types,” said Gianina Baker of NILOA who oversees the EIA review process.

An institution’s ability to clearly and convincingly communicate the learning outcomes of their graduates, regardless of program of study, is paramount to the success of our students, institutions, and larger national economic and competitive priorities. The EIA designees are successfully designing and implementing institution-wide assessment processes and practices that provide evidence of the learning of all students.

These systems are horizontally and vertically integrated to encompass learning both in and outside of the classroom and are validated by participation and evaluation of external stakeholders, including alumni, employers, and schools their students subsequently attend for additional study. Building intentionally integrated, layered systems that rest on the foundational work of faculty in the classroom, institutions are able to provide deep and rich evidence of students’ knowledge, skills, and abilities.

EIA designees reinforce that there is not one “right way” to undertake assessment of student learning. The EIA provides a nationally recognized and respected means to rebut the claims questioning the value and worth of higher education. While still respecting the diversity of what good assessment looks like in practice, the EIA designations provide a signal for external audiences to look to. As part of the application process, colleges and universities are asked not just to detail the specific assessment activities they’ve undertaken, but also the reason why such efforts are a priority for them. Designees need to demonstrate how aligned processes, building from classroom-based assessment, foster a coherent, collaborative approach to assessing student learning.

The EIA Designations are directly linked to NILOA’s Transparency Framework. The application process for the designation includes a rigorous and systematic self-study. Accredited, degree-granting institutions working to implement and sustain comprehensive use of assessment of student learning outcomes are eligible to receive the designations. The application period for the 2021 class of designees will open in December 2020. More information on the designation can be found on the EIA Designation web page.

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