This paper examines the role of outcomes assessment in the higher education accreditation process of the Middle States Association Commission on Higher Education region and considers future trends suggested by recent federal legislation. The recent reauthorization of the Higher Education Act stipulates an evolving role for the federal government in accreditation. Four current Commission publications on outcomes assessment are briefly summarized. In addition the paper presents results of a study of outcomes assessment in institutions in the region. The study consisted of two surveys, one for institutions beginning the outcomes assessment process and one for institutions with assessment plans in place. Three hundred of the 506 institutional members returned one of the two questionnaires. An analysis of self-study designs submitted by institutions during 1992 and 1993 found an increasing emphasis on outcomes assessment. In addition, all of the 1993-94 self-studies on file to date incorporate assessment data. The paper discusses the importance of outcomes assessment in light of the National Education Goals, particularly Goal #5 which calls for all citizens to be literate and able to exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. A final discussion highlights differences between Commission positions with regard to assessment and constructs and procedures outlined in draft federal regulations. Copies of the outcomes assessment surveys are appended. (JB)
Paper presented at the Double Feature Conference on Assessment and Continuous Quality Improvement of the American Association for Higher Education (Chicago, IL, June 12, 1993).
Higher Education Act Amendments 1992; Middle States Association Commission Higher Educ; National Education Goals 1990