Moving Beyond Compliance to Actionable Assessment Practices

learningpathsWe’ve all seen the headlines when an institution runs afoul of its accreditor. It isn’t pretty. The institution faces serious operational and reputational risk. The path back to good standing devours resources and distracts from the core educational mission. The importance of institutional compliance is undeniable. But can a strong focus on compliance actually detract institutions from improving student outcomes and institutional effectiveness?

At the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) annual conference in Houston last month, our LiveText team spoke with many college and university leaders about efforts to broaden their accreditation initiatives into more innovative assessment strategies.

I was happy to be in the audience when a Director of Assessment and Program Evaluation at a mid-sized public university in South Florida – someone I’ve worked closely with – detailed her institution’s progressive efforts toward improving assessment. The audience clamored to know the technology that facilitated her plan.

Her answer: LiveText.

It was a proud moment.

Changing a university’s culture to focus on assessment isn’t easy. It takes extensive planning and collaboration. Unfortunately, colleges and universities too often find that process does not yield actual improvement.

You’ve probably been on a team that regularly emailed tracking spreadsheets. Fill out your section, save, and then reply to all with the attachment…then send it to the poor soul tasked with merging all the edits. With tools created in-house from scratch, data gathering is often cumbersome and cobbled together.

Even if these inefficient, labor intensive collection processes yield valuable data, what are the chances they will result in deep and meaningful changes?

If you attended SACSCOC and visited our LiveText booth, you saw how our Assessment Insight System™ (AIS™) is helping colleges and universities set goals, assess progress, and evaluate and strengthen the quality of their mission. Some of the feedback we received from provosts, directors of institutional effectiveness, and other leaders included:

“AIS™ will really allow our institution the flexibility we need to report to internal and external stakeholders.”

“I wish I had an opportunity to talk with you about AIS™ sooner. I had no idea how powerful a tool it was.”

“I can see right away how intuitive and easy it is to use AIS™.”

“This will let me eliminate the manual processes I have on campus to collect SACSCOC documentation/data.”

Accreditors are quickly moving beyond baseline compliance, driving institutions to implement assessment programs, such as SACSCOC’s Quality Enhancement Plans (QEP).  We’ve designed AIS™ to meet the demands of QEP and similar initiatives. And, our AIS™ platform is flexible enough to allow for customization to meet an institution’s’ unique needs.

Forward-thinking colleges and universities are building robust improvement processes – with deliberate workflows – and actively monitor improvements in ways that connect the dots and reveal true insights. Statistics, trends and ratings emerge, allowing for action before it’s too late. Program leaders can use these insights to coach and develop in real time.

We’re delighted to see this kind of continuous improvement in academic programs now. And we’re actively developing our products to allow for even greater customization to extend AIS™ into non-academic areas that also impact the overall student experience.

Stay tuned as we continue assisting colleges and universities beyond program reviews and compliance, helping them adopt meaningful assessment practices that truly improve their value – because avoiding compliance pitfalls just simply isn’t enough anymore.

Ida AsnerWritten By: Ida Asner; Ida serves as Director, Consulting Services at LiveText. She regularly works directly with Provosts, Vice Presidents, Deans and other college and university administrators across the U.S., helping them improve learning through meaningful feedback, analysis and reflection.

P.S. Join LiveText on February 17 at 12pm CT to view a demonstration of our Assessment Insight System™ and learn how it is helping colleges and universities set goals, assess progress, and evaluate and strengthen the quality of their institutional and program goals.