Annual Assessment FAQs

General Annual Assessment FAQs

Why should I care about assessment?

In practical terms, annual assessment serves two primary functions:

1.      Accountability - to the students, to the state, to the institution, and to yourself.

2.      Growth - good assessment will lead to students learning more, or more efficiently, and lead to better, or more efficient teaching.  You and your students benefit from thoughtful, guided, regular reflection and adjustment of teaching and learning practices based on measureable data and deliberate planning.

There are many frameworks for effective professional reflection, and assessment is just one of them.

What are the annual requirements for program assessment reporting?

At least one program learning outcome must be assessed each year such that all learning outcomes are assessed within a 3-5 year period. Once all learning outcomes are assessed, the cycle begins again.

What is the deadline for annual assessment reports?

Annual assessment reports are due by the last business day in September each year. For 2020, that date will be September 30, 2020. 

How do I know when the next reporting cycle begins?

The annual academic program assessment reporting system (AAPAR) is always open for reporting.  However, we will kick off annual reporting for each academic year at the end of spring semester. An email will be generated to system users in May to alert them that reporting is open for the 2019-20 academic year.

How do I submit my report?

Assessment reports are submitted directly in the annual academic program assessment reporting system (AAPAR).  For the next round of reporting, you will be asked to indicate completion of your annual reporting by checking the completion box in the interface.

Can I use grade distributions to represent my assessment results?

No. Because a course grade is likely based on content and assessments that correspond to multiple program learning outcomes, a course grade does not allow program faculty to determine levels of achievement for each of these outcomes separately.  In addition, course grades may not always relate only to student achievement; often, such things as effort, attendance, class participation, and group work are incorporated into a final grade.

Programs Required to Report

What types of programs are included in the academic assessment reporting system?

Undergraduate and graduate certificate programs, baccalaureate programs, and graduate and professional programs are all subject to annual assessment reporting requirements and will appear in the annual academic program assessment reporting system (AAPAR).  At this time, minors and micro-credentials are not included in these requirements.

Must I report on minors?

Programs subject to annual academic reporting requirements are those that result in an “award” to the student, either a certificate or a degree.  Thus, undergraduate and graduate certificate programs, baccalaureate programs, and graduate and professional programs are all subject to annual assessment reporting requirements.  Minors and micro-credentials are currently not subject to annual assessment reporting requirements.

What if my program is very low enrollment?

If you currently have just a couple of students enrolled in an active program, assessment data should still be collected.  However, it doesn’t make sense to review results and identify areas of strength and necessary improvements based on such a small sample of students.  To remain compliant with annual assessment reporting requirements, please make a note in the assessment method area for each learning outcome that this program is very low enrollment and assessment results will be entered once data has been collected from more students (e.g., 20 or more).

What if I want to deactivate my program temporarily?

Make sure to reach out to either the Graduate School and/or Undergraduate Education and follow the established UB policies related to program deactivation.  For the purposes of annual academic assessment reporting, please email uboee@buffalo.edu with the name of the program and request temporary deactivation in the assessment reporting system.  When you are ready to reactivate the program, you will need to work with the Graduate School and/or Undergraduate Education and contact OEE to reinstate the program in the annual academic program assessment reporting system (AAPAR).

Annual Assessment and Accreditation

Why is accreditation important?

The validity of every student's degree and their potential as an employee is highly influenced by the source school of the degree; if a school is not accredited, or is accredited by a questionable agency, then the value of the student's education drops precipitously. Thus, the value of the instruction drops, and with it, enrollment. In addition, attending an unaccredited program can disqualify a student from federal financial aid. Considering the number of UB students who depend on federal financial aid to attend, not maintaining our accreditation status would be a life-altering financial and professional blow to current students, and significantly disincentivize new students from attending. UB is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. As an organization recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education, MSCHE has the authority to determine if the University of Buffalo and its programs are adequately meeting and maintaining the high level of standards it claims to meet. Some other programs, such as medical and law programs, are accredited by the governing board of their profession.

What is the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)?

For a comprehensive history and explanation of standards of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, we strongly recommend visiting their website: https://www.msche.org/about-us/

For our purposes, Program coordinators should bear in mind the purpose of MSCHE Accreditation for the University of Buffalo.  MSCHE is an organization recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education to conduct accreditation activities for institutions of higher education in our region.

"The Commission is a voluntary, non-governmental, membership association that defines, maintains, and promotes educational excellence across institutions with diverse missions, student populations, and resources. It examines each institution as a whole, rather than specific programs within institutions." -from "About Us," MSCHE.org

Essentially, MSCHE provides oversight to degree-granting institutions to ensure the institution and the programs within are indeed providing the quality education the institution is claiming to provide and provides broad standards defining "quality education." Every ten or so years, evaluators representing MSCHE visit institutions to evaluate the quality of the institution based on seven standards for accreditation and requirements for affiliation. All programs of and departments of an institution contribute to a self-study report, collecting evidence and providing narrative along with that evidence to demonstrate their compliance with the MSCHE standards.

 

What does Annual Academic Program Assessment have to do with accreditation?

Standard V of the MSCHE standards concerns effective educational assessment. Per the standard, "Assessment of student learning and achievement demonstrates that the institution’s students have accomplished educational goals consistent with their program of study, degree level, the institution’s mission, and appropriate expectations for institutions of higher education."  Quality assessment happens continuously, not every 10 years. Thus, it is part of the mission of the Office of Educational Effectiveness to ensure

1.   Institutional-level assessment of student learning;

2.   Integration of annual and periodic assessment processes; and

3.   Campus leadership for educational assessment and continuous improvement activities.

From <http://www.buffalo.edu/oee/about-us/our-mission.html>

The Office of Educational Effectiveness and its staff provides resources, consultation, and guidance to all UB programs to ensure quality assessment occurs in order to support programmatic quality and ensure compliance with MSCHE standard V.

If my program is accredited, do I need to submit an annual assessment report?

Yes.  All academic programs that result in an “award” (either a certificate or degree) are subject to the requirements of annual assessment reporting.  However, if you have completed assessment of learning outcomes for accreditation and have written up your assessment findings in an accreditation report, you can simply copy and paste information from your document into the appropriate AAPAR fields.  You may also request assistance with the data entry process by emailing uboee@buffalo.edu.

How does annual assessment reporting connect to Comprehensive Program Review?

By assessing one learning outcome each year, programs that are subject to Comprehensive Program Review will assess their entire program by the time of the next review.  The holistic report for assessment of all learning outcomes will be included as an appendix in the program review self-study, and a section of the self-study will require the department to reflect on this assessment and describe strengths and areas for improvement, along with a plan for those improvements.

I have an assessment report or accreditation self--study created in the form of a document; can I just email that to you?

Since OEE must pull aggregated reports for UB as a whole, the assessment information must be entered in the discrete fields in the annual academic program assessment reporting system (AAPAR).  You can simply copy and paste information from your document into the appropriate AAPAR fields.  You can request assistance with this process by emailing uboee@buffalo.edu.

Still have questions? Email us at uboee@buffalo.edu.