Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Standardized Testing is Here!

Get ready, campus community, because soon we will be teaching to the test--one more cog in the giant testing industry.

Chancellor Wells announced today that we are beginning to "pilot" the CLA exams for graduating students.  As many feared from the beginning, the VSA looks more and more like a backdoor entrance to standardized exit exams for UWO students.  

I think it is almost a foregone conclusion that within 5 years, we will be hearing incessent reminders from the administration that we need to change our classes to improve the schools CLA scores.   

For information, you can look at the CLA propaganda here.  It seems that the CLA was developed by the RAND institute and will be computer graded.  Lucky us!

Here is a critic of the whole VSA and CLA approach. 

Finally, here is the Memo:

From: Chancellor Wells and Provost Hartman  
To: Faculty and Instructional Academic Staff
As you may recall, UW Oshkosh joined the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) last fall, and we have since posted a link on our homepage to the College Portrait, which provides information on UW Oshkosh to prospective students and their families, public policy-makers, legislators, campus faculty and staff, and other key higher education stakeholders. Evidence of student learning outcomes, which is not scheduled to be posted on the VSA College Portrait for three years, is one of the data elements included in the College Portrait. The VSA has approved three instruments (CLA, MAPP and CAAP) to measure student gains in critical thinking, including analytic reasoning, and written communication.
Colleges and universities across the US are piloting various assessments in order to make a decision on which instrument best aligns with their learning outcomes. UW Oshkosh has already administered the MAPP and the CAAP assessments on a limited basis. We have been given an opportunity to join other UW system schools to pilot the CLA in 2008-09 to evaluate the test and to analyze any changes in the results. We will pilot the CLA by administering the test to one hundred freshmen students this fall and to one hundred senior students in the spring semester.  
An important criterion for the selection of an assessment instrument is the alignment of that instrument with learning outcomes. The current version of the CLA aligns with major components of the LERT outcomes. The administration of the CLA at this time will provide us with additional data regarding student learning at this university. These data can be used to inform the process used to determine performance indicators for our learning outcomes. Such a process promotes continuous improvement practices on our campus.
The selection of the CLA as a pilot also allows us to participate in a large scale research project sponsored by a FIPSIE grant. This research focuses on the development of an assessment of learning outcomes such as ours that is both valid and reliable.
E. Alan Hartman 
Interim Provost & Vice Chancellor
Richard H. Wells

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