Accommodations and Adaptations
Modifications in the way assessments are designed or administered so that students with disabilities (SWD) and limited English proficient students can be included in the assessment.  Assessment accommodations or adaptations might include Braille forms for blind students or tests in native languages for students whose primary language is other than English.  CRESST

The extent to which policy elements in a system work together to guide instruction and, ultimately, student learning Webb, N.L. (1997). Criteria for alignment of expectations and assessments in mathematics and science education (Research Monograph NO. 6). Madison: University of Wisconsin-Madison, National Institute for Science Education.

Alternative Assessment
An assessment that requires students to generate a response to a question rather than choose from a set of responses provided to them.  (Exhibitions, investigations, demonstrations, written or oral responses, journals, and portfolios) CRESST

The ongoing process of:

  • Establishing clear, measurable objectives (expected outcomes) of student learning
  • Ensuring that students have sufficient opportunities to achieve outcomes
  • Systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well student learning matches our expectations
  • Using the resulting information to understand and to improve student learning

(Linda Suskie, Assessing Student Learning, 2004)

Authentic Assessment
An Demonstrating skills and determining level of competence during real life, real world situations or engaging scenarios; a rubric with established standards and criteria for each attribute is the tool most frequently used for measurement of authentic assessments.

[back to top]

A detailed description of a specific level of student performance expected of students at a particular period of time or developmental level.  CRESST

Bloom’s Taxonomy

A classification of levels of intellectual behavior important in learning.  Bloom identified six levels within the cognitive domain, from the simple recall or recognition of facts, as the lowest level, through increasingly more complex and abstract mental levels, to the highest order which is classified as evaluation. Bloom's Taxonomy

Capstone Course
A course which allows the opportunity for students to demonstrate that they have achieved the goals for learning established by their educational institution and major department.  The course is designed to assess cognitive, affective and psychomotor learning and to do so in a student-centered and student-directed manner which requires the command, analysis and synthesis of knowledge and skills.  The capstone course integrates learning from the courses in the major with the courses from the rest of the academic experience.  Robert C. Moore, Capstone Courses

Capstone Project
A culminating learning experience which provides an opportunity for the student to integrate and apply competencies acquired through coursework, knowledge, skills and experiential learning and to demonstrate a broad mastery of learning across the curriculum.  Robert C. Moore, Capstone Courses

Classroom Assessment
An approach designed to help teachers find out what students are learning in the classroom and how well they are learning it. (Angelo and Cross)

Classroom Assessment Techniques
A collection of tools faculty can use to get feedback on how well they are achieving their goals.  CATs reinforce student learning in three ways: by focusing student attention on the most important elements of the course; by providing additional practice in valuable learning and thinking skills; and by training students to become more self-aware, self-assessing, independent learners. (Angelo and Cross)

Employ written and oral communication skills in order to convey clear and organized information to target audiences for specific purposes. (CCAC)

Course Map
A matrix that connects learning outcomes for a particular course to the activities within the course that allow for the achievement of the outcomes; it is an auditing tool that helps identify potential disconnects between course activities and the learning objectives established for the course. (Angelo and Cross)

Course Outcomes
See: Outcomes (Course)

Criterion-Referenced Assessment
An assessment where an individual’s performance is compared to a specific learning objective or performance standard and not to the performance of other students. CRESST

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Identify problems, explore solutions, prioritize solutions, and revise priorities as a means for purposeful action. (CCAC)

Culture and Society
Describe and explain behaviors and beliefs, socio-historical influences, and aesthetic values of various populations within and outside the United States. (CCAC)

Curriculum Map
A matrix that connects goals or objectives to any courses within a particular discipline that allow for achievement of the goals/objectives; it is an auditing tool that helps identify potential gaps in the curriculum.

[back to top]

Direct Assessment
Gathers evidence about student learning based on student performance that demonstrates the learning itself; can be value added, related to standards, or quantitative, embedded or not, using local or external criteria.  Examples are written assignments, classroom assignments, presentations, test results, projects, logs, portfolios, and direct observations (Leskes, 2002)

Direct Measure of Learning
Tangible evidence of what students have and have not learned. The identification and measurement of observable student behaviors and skills that demonstrate the intended program outcome/course objective has occurred.

Embedded Assessment
A means of gathering information about student learning that is built into and a natural part of the teaching-learning process.  Often used for assessment purposes and/or classroom assignments that are evaluated to assign students a grade. Can assess individual student performance or aggregate the information to provide information about the course or program; can be formative or summative, quantitative or qualitative.  Example: as part of a course, expecting each senior to complete a research paper that is graded for content and style, but is also assessed for advanced ability to locate and evaluate Web-based information (as part of a college-wide outcome to demonstrate information literacy). (Leskes, 2002)

A means to measure, compare, and judge the quality of student work, schools, or a specific educational program. CRESST

[back to top]

Focus groups
Consists of participants who might contribute useful information related to student learning, either through surveys or interviews.  Examples of possible focus groups include: 1) current students; 2) graduating students; 3) alumni; 4) current and perspective employers; 5) supervisors of students in field experiences. (Suskie)

Formative Assessment
The gathering of information about student learning during the progression of a course or program and usually repeatedly to improve the learning of those students.  Example: reading the first lab reports of a class to assess whether some or all students in the group need a lesson on how to make them succinct and informative. (Leskes, 2002)

Holistic Scoring
Evaluating student work in which the score is based on an overall impression of student performance rather than multiple dimensions of performance CRESST

A specific description of an outcome in terms of observable and assessable behaviors.  It specifies what a person who has the qualities articulated in an outcome knows or can do (adapted from BMCC)

Indirect Assessment
Acquiring evidence about how student feel about learning and their learning environment rather than actual demonstrations of outcome achievement.  Examples include: surveys, questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, and reflective essays. (Doug Eder)

Indirect Measure of Learning
Reveals students are learning but evidence of what students have learned is less clear. (ASL)

Institutional Assessment
The on-going process of systematically measuring achievement of the Enduring Goals established by the College.  Results are utilized in the annual planning and resource allocation cycle to improve institutional effectiveness. (IAPC)

Learning Outcomes (ACLS)
Learning outcomes describe the learning mastered in behavioral terms at specific levels; in other words, what the learner will be able to do.

Norm Referenced Assessment
An assessment where student performance is compared to a larger group, usually a national sample representing a wide and diverse cross-section of students. CRESST

[back to top]

Objectives (Program)
Detailed aspects of the program that are accomplished by the successful completion of the course outcomes.

Refers to specific tasks needed to accomplish the goals of the program(Suskie, p. 74)

Opportunities to Learn
To expose students to an environment that will enable them to achieve high standards.  It is what takes place in the classrooms that enables students to acquire the knowledge and skills that are expected. CRESST 

Learning outcomes that are observable, measurable and assessable; statements of the end products of student learning including knowledge, skills, competencies and attitudes. Course outcomes are the knowledge, skills, attitudes and habits of mind that students take with them from a particular course (Suskie, p. 75)

Performance Standards/Criteria
Explicit definitions of what students must do to demonstrate proficiency at a specific level on the content standards.  For example, the performance level “exceptional achievement” on a dimension “communication of ideas” is reached when the student examines the problem from several different positions and provides adequate evidence to support each position. CRESST

A systematic and organized collection of a student’s work that exhibits to others the direct evidence of a student’s efforts, achievements, and progress over a period of time.  It should include representative work, providing a documentation of the learner’s performance and a basis for evaluation of the student’s progress.  Portfolios may include a variety of demonstrations of learning and have been gathered in the form of a physical collection of materials, videos, CD-ROMs, reflective journals, etc.

Portfolio Assessment
A portfolio becomes an assessment when: 1) the assessment purpose is clearly defined; 2) there are specific criteria for determining what is put in the portfolio by whom and when; 3) there are defined criteria for assessing either the collection or individual pieces. These criteria are then used to make judgments about performance. CRESST

Primary Trait Analysis
Involves analyzing assignments in order to identify factors or traits that are to count in the grading of an assignment and to create a scoring rubric that the teacher can use in grading and students can use in fulfilling the assignment (Barbara E. Walvoord and Virginia Johnson Anderson)

Program Assessment
Helps determine whether students can integrate learning from individual courses into a coherent whole.  It is interested in the cumulative effects of the education process (Palomba and Banta).  Whereas classroom assessment focuses on gauging learning for individual students, program assessment gauges the learning of a group of students.  The outcomes information in program assessment is used to improve courses, programs, and services.  (ASL)

Program Objectives
See: Objectives (Program)

[back to top]

Qualitative Assessment
Uses flexible, naturalistic methods and are usually analyzed by looking for recurring patterns and themes.  Examples include: reflective writing, notes from focus groups, interviews, and observations, and online discussion threads.  (Linda Suskie)

Quantitative Assessment
Uses structured, predetermined response options that can be summarized into meaningful numbers and analyzed statistical.  Examples include: test scores, rubric scores, and survey ratings (Linda Suskie)

Quantitative and Scientific Reasoning
Apply appropriate mathematical and/or scientific concepts and theories in order to interpret data and solve problems based on verifiable evidence.

The degree to which the results of an assessment are dependable and consistently measure particular student knowledge and/or skills.  CRESST

Specific sets of criteria that clearly define for both student and teacher what a range of acceptable and unacceptable performance looks like.  Criteria define descriptors of ability at each level of performance and assign values to each level.  Levels referred to are proficiency levels which describe a continuum from excellent to unacceptable product. (General Education Assessment Resource Center Glossary, Borough of Manhattan Community College)

[back to top] 

A consistent set of procedures for designing, administering, and scoring an assessment. The purpose is to assure that all students are assessed under the same conditions so that their scores have the same meaning and are not influenced by differing conditions. CRESST

The broadest of a family of terms referring to statements of expectations for student learning, including content standards, performance standards, and benchmarks. CRESST

Student Artifacts
A collection of papers, projects, documents, etc., which represent your knowledge, competency, understanding, and achievement of identified goals and learning incomes.

Student Self Reflection
Student ratings of their knowledge, skills and attitudes; this can provide useful indirect evidence of student learning and also helps students develop metacognitive skills (Suskie, p. 139)

Summative Assessment
Evaluation at the conclusion of a unit or units of instruction or an activity or plan to determine or judge student skills and knowledge or effectiveness of a plan or activity. The gathering of information at the conclusion of a course When used for improvement, impacts the next cohort of students taking the course or program.  Example: examining student final exams in a course to see if certain specific areas of the curriculum were understood less well than others (Leskes, 2002)

[back to top]

The extent to which an assessment measures what it is supposed to measure and the extent to which inferences and actions made on the basis of test scores are appropriate and accurate. CRESST

Value Added
The increase in learning that occurs during a course, program, or undergraduate education.  Can either focus on the individual student (how much better a student can write, for example, at the end than at the beginning) or on a cohort of students (whether senior papers demonstrate more sophisticated writing skills-in the aggregate-than freshmen papers).  Requires a baseline measurement for comparison. (Leskes, 2002)