Assessing and Externally Validating Graduation Proficiencies: A Study to Explore Lessons from the Field

Western Association of Schools and Colleges
March 7th, 2012
Publication Author: 
Resource Type: 

As one of six regional accrediting commissions recognized by the US Department of Education, the Senior College Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) is responsible to serve as “a reliable authority to assure institutional quality and integrity.” WASC entered a redesign process in 2010 to take significant steps to enhance its role as an agent of quality assurance and public accountability. In doing so, WASC will give greater attention to student success and student learning in the accreditation process.

Building on the considerable work that has already begun within the region toward defining and assessing learning outcomes, WASC intends to move the accreditation dialogue with institutions from a focus on assessment processes, toward understanding the significance of assessment results. Towards this end, the Commission in November 2011 adopted several proposals from the redesign Task Forces and Steering Committee stating that institutions place more emphasis on defining the meaning and quality of degrees, in terms of assuring that there are clear learning goals and outcomes for graduation and that institutions demonstrate that graduates achieve or surpass a stated level of proficiency, both within the major and at least the following five core areas drawn from Criteria for Review (CFR) 2.2: written communication, oral communication, critical thinking, quantitative skills, and information literacy.