Colleges Continue to Abandon Standardized Tests to Assess Learning, Survey Finds

Colleges are continuing to move away from assessing students’ learning outcomes through standardized tests, according to the results of a new survey. A report on the survey, “Trends in Learning Outcomes Assessment,” by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, says that only 38 percent of institutions use standardized national tests of general knowledge. That’s down from nearly 50 percent in 2008.

The results appear to continue a trend in recent years of colleges’ abandoning a stated commitment to standardized tests — such as the Collegiate Learning Assessment — as a way to measure educational quality.

Among the survey’s other findings:

  • The percentage of institutions that report having a common set of learning outcomes for all students is up to 85 percent, from 78 percent in 2008.
  • The most commonly reported methods of assessment are rubrics and capstone projects.
  • Twenty-five percent of institutions say they do not assess outcomes in general education but plan to do so.
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