Avoiding a Tragedy of the Commons
Chapter 10: Assessment and Accountability: Is Comparison Possible? (with Stephen Klein)
10. Assessment and accountability: is comparison possible? 100 INTRODUCTION There is confusion about what kind of assessment is appropriate in higher education. There is also some misunderstanding over the relationship between assessment and accountability. Even when institutions and state policymakers use similar assessment information they do so for different purposes. Faculty are focused on improving education programs while state leaders are interested in holding their public higher education institutions accountable for their performance. The need to improve our understanding of assessment and accountability cuts across public and private colleges and universities. Regional accreditation groups now require evidence of student learning success for the public and private institutions they accredit. Private and public colleges are frequent targets of Congressional concerns about the cost of undergraduate education. Such concerns occasionally translate into proposed legislation to deal with the problem. Because of concerns about costs and quality, private as well as public institutions need to demonstrate that they add value, that they produce successful educational outcomes. Boards of trustees of private and public institutions now increasingly call for evidence of success. Finally, both public and private institutions are interested in using assessment to improve teaching and learning. Because faculty are focused on using assessment to improve teaching and learning while state accountability agencies concentrate upon accountability objectives, there is a disconnect between the faculty and institutions on the one hand and the state on the other. COMPARATIVE METHODOLOGY: OBSTACLES This disconnect is made worse because a number of state-based comparisons violate comparative methodological...
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