The key to successful assessments is to keep everything simple. One director of assessment shares practical advice on how to do this while still producing valuable assessment data.
Self-Study and Assessment
Self-study is a central task of accreditation. The self-study process and resulting self-study report are themselves forms of assessment. Good assessment is based upon a simple, systematic, and sustainable approach that covers both institutional and educational effectiveness and informs institutional planning (see General Institutional Standards, Standard 1, section 1.2.2, and also Educational Standard, Standard ES, section 6).
Schools preparing for initial or comprehensive accreditation evaluations should begin their self-study process by reviewing the General Institutional Standards, the Educational Standard, and the Degree Program Standards, as well as the ATS Commission Policies and Procedures adopted by the member schools of the Commission. Other helpful resources include the Self-Study Handbook, especially Chapter Two: Guidelines for Schools Conducting Self-Studies and Chapter Three: Guidelines for Institutions Receiving Accreditation Evaluation Committees.
To assist schools beginning their self-study process, member schools with visits scheduled in the next two to three years are invited each September to Pittsburgh to participate in a self-study workshop. This two-day event is provided at no cost (other than travel and lodging) and covers a wide range of topics associated with the self-study process, the self-study report, the evaluation visit, and subsequent actions taken by the Board of Commissioners. The workshop is also a good opportunity to meet the ATS staff liaisons assigned to member schools to assist them in accreditation matters. Some resources that are covered in this workshop include these documents:
A Reflective Guide to Effective Assessment of Student Learning (12/2014)
Characteristics of Good Self-Study Reports (01/20/15)
Some Assessment Tools from ATS
Checklist for Effective Assessment (07/28/14)
Targeted Issues Checklist (mandatory requirements) (10/23/14)
2015 Webinar: Doing Assessment Well—Introducing a New Guide (04/28/15)