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Assessment Oversight Committee

Charge to the Assessment Oversight Committee
January, 2001
Phil DiStefano, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

At the request of Chancellor Byyny, I am establishing a faculty and staff committee charged with providing advice, recommendations and strategies to campus administration and primary units regarding all activities associated with student assessment issues.

CU-Boulder has a long history of assessing undergraduate educational outcomes beyond standard classroom practices. In 1985, the Colorado State Legislature passed House Bill 1187, which established accountability requirements for higher education in the state. The statute required institutions to assess undergraduate student "knowledge, capacity, and skills," and to report results yearly to CCHE, which in turn summarized the institutions' reports for the legislature. HB 1187 allowed institutions until fall 1989 to develop their assessment programs, with the first data to be reported for academic year 1989-90.

In response to HB 1187, CU-Boulder developed a comprehensive and continuing undergraduate assessment program. The policy governing this program was written in AY 1986-87 by a "blue ribbon" faculty and administrative committee appointed by the Chancellor, and was approved by him in March, 1988. In 1996, House Bill 1219 updated the old statute and replaced the accountability program with a system of institutional performance indicators, in particular Indicator 8, which concerns "existence and operation of a formal, comprehensive, and effective institutional assessment and accountability program," and its subsections, which go into more specific detail. The indicators system legislation was updated again in 1999 with Senate Bill 229, with outcomes assessment remaining part of the indicator system. In addition, CCHE's policy on academic program review requires an ongoing outcomes assessment program, as does the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the accrediting body for higher education institutions in our region.

With a working assessment process in place for over 10 years, and a national reputation for leadership, why should we establish a new oversight committee?

  • It's time - the assessment process has become routine, pro forma for many programs. It's been running on "automatic pilot," with no meetings of an oversight committee in several years.
  • The expectations of external constituencies (CCHE, NCA, Governor's office, legislature, general public) have changed. For example, the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), our accrediting agency, places much more emphasis on assessment now than in the '80's. NCA has specifically asked for a "progress report on the use of assessment as a tool to improve undergraduate and graduate student learning and for institutional improvement," due fall 2003. The campus must report to retain accreditation.
  • Assessment of graduating seniors' knowledge and skills in the major field is one of the CCHE QIS indicators for future years, as is assessment of general education goals for lower-division undergraduates.
  • In recent years students, employers, and parents have become more interested in information about what graduates of a particular program can be expected to know and do. They also expect delivery of this information via web.
  • CU-Boulder is paying more attention to accountability and strategic goals in its budgeting process. The introduction of a "unit merit" component in the allocation process may allow real consequences to be attached to collection and use of assessment information.

I ask you, as an oversight committee, to build on our current efforts by re-examining extant practices, recommending new and different strategies where you think change is warranted, and providing counsel aimed at improving and enhancing the effectiveness of all our student assessment practices. While the initial emphasis will be on undergraduate education, we plan to address graduate level assessment in the near future.

Thank you in advance for contributing to this important part of our general efforts to improve academic excellence at CU-Boulder.

Initial Committee Composition:


Michael Grant, Associate Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education, Professor and former chair of the Department of Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology


Gordon Brown, Mathematics
Shelley Copley, Chemistry
Sam Fitch, Political Science, chair
Stephen Jones, College of Journalism, Assistant Dean
Padraic Kenney, History
Merrill Lessley, College of Arts and Sciences, Associate Dean
Michael Main, Computer Science and chair of the Boulder Faculty Assembly's academic affairs committee
Ronald Melicher, Business
Elease Robbins, Dean of Students and Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs
James Sherman, College of Engineering, Assistant Dean
Kumiko Takahara, East Asian Languages and Civilizations
University of Colorado Student Union student to be named


Lou McClelland, Planning, Budget, and Analysis
Perry Sailor, Planning, Budget, and Analysis

PBA: L:\www\outcomes\aoc\charge.htm - 3/16/01.

Last revision 01/15/10

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