From: Gkerstie <[log in to unmask]>
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Date: Wed, 7 Jan 1998 20:51:59 EST
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Winter Institute, January 6, 1998, Summary of Session

                         19th Annual Institute

                        Wednesday, January 7


              (That's in the shade.  The wind-chill factor in the sun is 80

Presenters:  Rodger Slater, Co-chair of Assessment Council, Maricopa
                   Community College District, & Bill Mathis, Director, LAC,
                   South Mountain Community College
                    "Institutional Assessment Issues"

     Rodger explained that his presentation would center on student assessment
issues that obtain not only on single campuses but also those that surface in
a multi-campus district (the Maricopa District is composed of 11 colleges
whose student population is the 2nd largest in the country).    Narrowing the
scope of his delivery, he noted that too often assessment is confused and
equated with testing, which is only one factor in many that involve
assessment.  Nevertheless, since the reality is that basic skills testing
(reading, writing, and math) is the engine that drives instruction as well as
student placement and advancement, it is a factor that needs to be addressed,
especially in his district which administers entrance exams to 43,000 students
each year.

     Issues discussed at length and with a sufficiency of examples follow:

     Mandatory placement vs discretionary placement: research indicates
          that, on 7 success factors, students on campuses employing dis-
          cretionary placement are more successful (Exxon Study)

     Cut-scores placing students in English, reading, and math courses

     Uniformity of  testing procedures on all campuses, district-wide

     The efficacy of computer-adaptive basic skills testing

     The area or facility in which testing occurs

     The abuses and backwash effects of time-critical testing

     Assessment situations and methods for distance learners

     Ability to Benefit problems and issues

     Use of multiple measures in the assessment/testing matrix

     Centering campus-wide testing in the LAC

     Opportunities for immediate re-testing on-demand or upon counselor's/
            instructor's recommendation

     Methods and style of test administration, explanation of scores, and
           rationale for placement

     The tenure of scores as placement factors (after a student earns a score
           and placement level on a test, how long will it be considered

     In sum, these issues were discussed as political, emotionally charged,
 instructional issues that occasion professionals becoming familiar with
 another's esophaguses in their hands.  Ways of resolving some of them were

     Bill Mathis's presentation centered on problems that we typically fail to
to face objectively as we encounter them.

     The misuse of assessment (for instance, using testing chiefly or entirely
          as a sorting device for administrative convenience)

     Failure to use a combination formal and informal assessment strategies

     Failure to identify weak links in the assessment process (for instance,
         failure to share assessment information or to make appropriate

     Faculty misunderstanding of the meaning of scores and their possible

     The need for faculty and staff to take all placement tests under the same
          conditions as those provided for ("inflicted upon"?) students

     Failure to appropriate sufficient budget and other infrastructure for

Responders:   Frank Christ underscored the critical tone of the presentations
stating that we should reaffirm our position that all assessment services
should be focused on the use of assessment to serve students.  Gwyn Enright
noted that we need to assess holistically, not merely with attention limited
to cut-off scores, percentiles, and grade-level equivalancies.

Meeting was adjourned at noon so that participants could take advantage of the
Institute break  traditionally enjoyed at a half-way point during Institute
proceedings.  Besides visiting some local campus facilities, members are said
to be journeying to Sedona, the Arizona Museum, Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesen
West facility, Florence, Arizona, and one energetic member plans to ascend
Squaw Peak.

Talk with you later,  Gene Kerstiens
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