8. Whatever happened to value-added?
"Value added" is still with us. NCA Evaluators would be delighted to find that we are demonstrating value-added by testing both entering and exiting students. But, as Lopez writes, "pre-testing is not necessary if one is highly confident that students know little or none of the content they are to master through completing the degree program." (Lopez 12) Lopez stresses that pre-testing is particularly appropriate for transfer and graduate students, but the ongoing assessment of majors through various levels of development is always impressive. The assessment plans and activities of our departments of Music and Foreign Language are notable in this regard. The national model is Alverno College, where students are assessed continuously throughout their college careers. More fundamental than demonstrating growth, however, is the need to measure student achievement against clearly stated standards. Though it is quite difficult to demonstrate that a department’s programs are the primary contributor to student learning, it is less difficult to show that students are completing the department’s programs having reached an acceptable level of achievement relative to specific educational objectives.