NEASC Policy Statement On Institutional Effectiveness
In the current Standards for Accreditation, the Commission onInstitutions of Higher Education has reaffirmed the importance of eachinstitution measuring its effectiveness. An institution's efforts and abilityto assess its effectiveness and use the obtained information for its improvementare important indicators of institutional quality. The Commission, through its evaluative processes, will appraise these quality indicators. Justas assessment is now a pervasive theme throughout the standards, so tooshould it be a theme in all comprehensive self-studies.
The Commission views such assessment as a means of enhancing institutional effectiveness. The assessment process requires the gathering and analysis of evidence of congruence between an institution's stated mission, purposes, and objectives and the actual outcomes of its programs and activities.In order to inform its planning, decision-making, and resource allocation,an institution needs to determine how well and in what ways it is accomplishing its mission and purposes. Moreover, the institution needs documentary evidence to support assertions of quality made in its self-study and in its communications with its constituencies.
The Commission expects each institution, as part of its dedication toinstitutional improvement, to monitor its effectiveness in achieving itsmission and purposes. Accordingly, the institution collects and analyzesrelevant data and uses this information in the institutional planning processas a basis for sustaining quality and self-improvement. Thus, assessmentfunctions as a tool for the encouragement of such improvement as well asa basis for quality assurance.
There is no one best way to assess institutional effectiveness, andthe Commission prescribes no formula that an institution must use for measuring or demonstrating its effectiveness. Assessment efforts will vary amongdifferent types of institution as well as among institutions of the sametype. Successful assessment efforts are compatible with the institution'smission and its available resources.
Assessment is not a one-time activity; rather it is evolutionary, ongoing, and incremental. The Commission realizes that an institution initiallyengaging in assessment will be likely to do so on a limited basis. However,it expects that in due time its assessment efforts will be more comprehensive,systematic, integrative, and organic. Regardless of their scope, theseefforts will be both qualitative and quantitative. Assessment does notrequire standardized or even professionally developed instruments or complicatedmethods of statistical analysis.
While assessment is an overall institutional concern, as reflected inthe various standards for accreditation, its primary focus is the teaching-learning experience. To the greatest possible, therefore, the institution shoulddescribe explicit achievements expected of its students and adopt reliableprocedures for assessing those achievements.
Ultimately, assessment and accreditation share the common goal of enabling the institution to reach it fullest academic potential by providing thehighest quality education possible. In pursuing that goal, institutionalautonomy should be preserved, innovation encouraged, and the distinct characterof each institution recognized and honored.