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The Assessment Plan Composer: Meeting SACS Requirements. Phil Moore & Susan Prior Institutional Planning & Assessment USC Columbia. Why Do We Need This System?. SACS was under-whelmed with our program assessments at our 2000 accreditation visit Episodic Little continuity

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The assessment plan composer meeting sacs requirements

The Assessment Plan Composer: Meeting SACS Requirements

Phil Moore & Susan Prior

Institutional Planning & Assessment

USC Columbia

Why do we need this system
Why Do We Need This System?

  • SACS was under-whelmed with our program assessments at our 2000 accreditation visit

    • Episodic

    • Little continuity

    • Often was not “student learning at the program level”

    • Plans all looked differently, with different understanding of what the terms meant

    • Needed a way to hold people accountable and help them see the value of assessment

Changes to sacs accreditation requirements
Changes to SACS accreditation requirements

  • Core requirements

    • 2.5 The institution engages in ongoing, integrated, and institution-wide research-based planning and evaluation processes that incorporate a systematic review of programs and services that (a) results in continuing improvement, and (b) demonstrates that the institution is effectively accomplishing its mission.

    • “ongoing” “integrated” “continuing improvement” & related to mission

New sacs terminology
New SACS Terminology

  • Comprehensive Standards

    • 3.3.1 The institution identifies expected outcomes for its educational programs and its administrative and educational support services; assesses whether it achieves these outcomes; and provides evidence of improvement based on analysis of those results.

    • “outcomes- are they being met?” & “evidence of improvements (changes) based upon results”

So apc components
So, APC Components . . .

  • Mission statement

  • Goals

  • Student Learning Outcomes (aka Objectives)

  • Criteria

  • Measures

  • Results

  • Use of Results

The apc design
The APC Design

  • To help encourage on-going assessment, the system is made up of two components:

    • The Assessment Report – this includes Results and Use of Results

    • The Assessment Plan – this changes based upon what you learned from the assessment results etc. in the previous year’s report

    • The two together are the Assessment “Document”

Guidelines for the terminology
Guidelines for the Terminology

  • Mission statement

    • Should be relatively short

    • Doesn’t need to be program specific – a departmental mission statement is fine

    • Must tie in with the larger, institutional mission statement


  • Goals

    • Broad aims of the program

    • Are usually pretty general

    • Often lead in with “The department expects all graduates to . . .”

  • Curriculum

    • Not a listing of specific courses necessarily, but where are the students being exposed to the experiences they need to reach the goal?


  • Student Learning Outcomes (Objectives)

    • More specific versions of the Goal statements – can seem a little redundant

    • Main difference is that Outcomes include ACTIVE verbs that describe what the students will do to show they have reached the learning goal

    • Outcomes must be measurable – for example, can you measure something like “have knowledge of”?

    • Often use “students will demonstrate . . .”


  • Criteria

    • What the students collectively will do, under what conditions, and what you will consider acceptable

  • Methods

    • The logistics for each outcome. Who will do what when, in relation to collecting the necessary information?


  • (These two sections appear only in the Annual Report section of each Assessment Document)

  • Results

    • What did you learn about how well your students are performing? Should be one result for each Goal/Outcome combination

  • Use of Results

    • What did you do (change) as a result of what you learned? This is what SACS wants to see as evidence of program improvement.

The assessment plan composer meeting sacs requirements

Plan Manager

This is the main menu for the step-by-step process in the development of the Assessment plan.

In conclusion
In conclusion

  • System was designed to solve some problems

    • Inconsistencies

    • “Nice” language saying nothing

  • Should help people to see the advantages of doing good assessment and make it seem manageable

  • We must demonstrate we are assessing our programs and making necessary changes to SACS

Feedback from the sacs consultant
Feedback from the SACS Consultant

  • Good start

  • Appropriate terminology generally – she did encourage us to shift to Learning Outcomes

  • Need to strengthen the plans themselves

The demonstration site
The Demonstration Site

  • If you are interested in “playing around” with the system to see if it might meet your institution’s needs, please log on to

  • To be an Administrator,

    • UserID = Admin; Password = Admin

  • To be a User,

    • UserID = Planwriter; Password = Planwriter

  • As this is a demonstration site, multiple users may be making changes to the same plans!

Additional information
Additional Information

1st year cost– hosted, maintained, and supported by USC’s Computer Services = $5000

  • (No hardware or software installation is required on your part)

  • Each additional year – 18% of initial year cost ($900)

  • (The system works on a Windows 200X server with IIS 5+ and SQL Server 2000)

  • For additional information about the Assessment Plan Composer, please contact Susan Prior –

  • For additional information about licensing, please contact Chad Hardaway –

  • For additional information about the technical aspects, please contact Eric Patterson –