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Friday, August 15, 2008

UNCP students score high in national testing program

Scores from the 2007-08 accountability testing are in, and officials at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke like what they see.

Results from the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA), which were administered to181 freshmen and seniors, show that the “value added” of a UNCP education is quite high. The CLA measures critical thinking, problem solving, analytical reasoning and writing skills.

The tests are broad measures of higher-order thinking skills that offer a look at overall institutional performance, according to the Council for Aid to Education (CAE), which created the testing program.

Compared to their peers:

  • UNCP students’ raw scores placed freshmen in the 43rd and seniors in the 46th percentile.
  • Adjusted for SAT scores of the test takers, UNCP freshmen scored in the 81st and seniors in the 84th percentile.
  • In terms of the value added or learning between freshmen and senior years, UNCP ranked in the 59th percentile.

The CLA was taken by students at 176 colleges and universities including all 16 UNC institutions.

“This is incredibly good news,” said Dr. Charles Harrington, provost and vice chancellor for the Office for Academic Affairs. “Our faculty should be extremely proud of their contribution to student learning outcomes.”

“The results from 2007-08 are quite positive because it speaks to what our students are gaining while they are here.”
--- Dr. Beverly King

Dr. Beverly King, assistant vice chancellor for the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, said accountability is increasingly important in higher education, and UNCP will report its CLA results on its Web site along with other accountability measures.  

“The results from 2007-08 are quite positive because it speaks to what our students are gaining while they are here,” Dr. King said. “We have every reason to be very proud of our students and our University.”

The CLA, which Dr. King said is a rigorous test, was given to student volunteers. Students received one of two different tests that are taken at a computer and are 90 minutes and two hours in length.

“Accountability at UNCP is driven by our ‘Philosophy of Assessment’ statement,” Dr. King added. “One of its tenets is that we heed outcomes as well as the experiences that lead to those outcomes.”

The Council for Aid to Education (CAE) is a national nonprofit organization focused on improving quality and access in higher education. The Collegiate Learning Assessment and the Community College Learning Assessment are part of a national effort to assess the quality of higher education by directly measuring student learning outcomes.

“CLA results operate as a signaling tool of overall institutional performance on tasks that measure higher-order skills holistically,” the CAE states.

The CLA examines three primary tasks – performance, make-an-argument and critique-an-argument. Analytic writing is a major piece of the testing.

Institutions participating include nine University of Texas and 11 California State universities, Wofford, Peace and Presbyterian colleges, Duke, Furman and the University of Kentucky.

For more information about CLA testing at UNCP, please contact the Office for Institutional Effectiveness at 910.521.6295.

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