Northwestern State University is among 12 colleges and universities named Excellence in Assessment designees for the schools’ 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.
“I am elated at Northwestern State University’s recognition as an ‘Excellence in Assessment Designee’ for 2020. Looking back four years ago, I would have never thought this type of recognition was possible. We are one of only 39 schools – nationwide – to receive this designation,” said NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio.
NSU is the only school in Louisiana to achieve the designation.
“I applied for the Excellence in Assessment designation because I believe in our university assessment process,” said Frank Hall, director of Institutional Effectiveness. “Receiving this nationwide honor validates all we have put into building and improving it over the past four years. The credit goes to all of those serving on the University Assessment Committee, degree and competency coordinators and our extraordinary team of faculty, staff, and academic and administrative leadership. Through their efforts, assessment is improving the quality of our educational programs and supporting academic and administrative support services.”
“This recognition validates all the hard work our faculty and staff have put into our assessment process,” Maggio added. “We are fortunate to have Frank Hall leading our team. Frank is the architect of our holistic assessment process, which sets a solid foundation for the University and has matured over time. It is a seamless process that stretches from our strategic plan and vision to action and improvement in the classroom and across the University. Assessment is now in our DNA; data-driven decision making is our new norm. We are incredibly honored to receive the 2020 Excellence in Assessment Designation, and I applaud our faculty and staff for the time, effort, and dedication they have put into this process in support of student learning.”
“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, executive director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.
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 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 Excellence in Assessment designation demonstrates Northwestern is quantifiably accomplishing its mission and striving to improve the socio-economic conditions of the region. Simply put, assessment results provide essential data to make informed strategic decisions,” Hall said. “It is fantastic to start the new school year with this recognition, and I could not be prouder of all we have accomplished for our students and University.”