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What kind of assessment results would cause faculty who teach in your program to consider the program successful?

The answer to this question - as applied either to a whole program or to a particular student learning outcome - is what is meant by criteria for success.

Let's say, for example, that your program uses a standardized test for assessing student learning with respect to learning outcome x. Your program's criteria for success might be as follows:

  • At least 90% of students will earn a score of 75% or higher.
  • At least 25% of students will earn a score of 85% or higher.
  • At least 10% of students will earn a score of 90% or higher.

Needless to say, a program's criteria for success indicate how high a bar the program sets for itself. A program that considers itself successful if "at least 80% of students earn a passing score" on an assessment instrument may be setting its bar too low. Of course, depending on the program or the instrument, such a bar may be perfectly appropriate.

Assessment results should prompt programs to discuss not only their teaching methods and program structure but also their criteria for success. Adjusting these criteria is one reasonable response to assessment results.

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