Reflections on Assessment

Reflections on Assessment

From Memberanda, Fall 2011

By definition, assessment means to decide the quality or importance of something. Current education discourse (and debate) is focused squarely on assessment – its quantity, its quality, and its efficacy. How is success in school measured? How should we measure student, educator, and administrator performance? Should they be linked? Without some form of assessment, there is no way to determine whether a particular model is working, or whether an individual is succeeding in meeting his or her goals. Elected officials are asking for proof that money is being well spent, and parents sending their children to independent schools are demanding the same accountability.

A recent report from the USC Center for Enrollment Research, Policy and Practice is calling for institutions of higher education to “measure what matters,” including use of standardized test scores, an institution’s impact on student learning, academic progress and success, and teacher and course quality (The Case for Change in College Admissions, 2011). The report emphasizes that colleges and universities need to “help the public understand that selectivity in itself is not a proxy for the quality of education a student attains.” Good assessment begs the development of reliable tools that best measure goals and outcomes; establishment of processes for data collection, analysis, and feedback; training of those who will use the tools; preparation of those who will participate in the processes; and creation of databases for these data over time.

When viewed through the lens of admission, assessment takes on a richer meaning, encompassing virtually everything an admission officer does in evaluating the whole child – determining fit, predicting outcomes, and sharing in the development of a child’s educational plan.

Professional development is a personal form of assessment that requires reflection and research – and also measurement. Are you maintaining the path that you set for yourself in order to reach your professional goals? Are you keeping up with the times? Are you continuing to learn and grow, network with your peers, and provide mentoring services to novice admission professionals? These assessments are crucial to staying on track and ensuring your own professional value-added within your school and the greater admission community.


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