Using the Collegiate Learning Assessment to Address the College-to-Career Space

Using the Collegiate Learning Assessment to Address the College-to-Career Space

Doris Zahner, Zachary Kornhauser, Roger W. Benjamin, Raffaela Wolf, Jeffrey T. Steedle
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9441-5.ch009
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Issues in higher education, such as the rising cost of education, career readiness, and increases in the achievement gap have led to a movement toward accountability in higher education. This chapter addresses the issues related to career readiness by highlighting an assessment tool, the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA), through two case studies. The first examines the college-to-career space by comparing different alternatives for predicting college success as measured by college GPA. The second addresses an identified market failure of highly qualified college graduates being overlooked for employment due to a matching problem. The chapter concludes with a proposal for a solution to this problem, namely a matching system.
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Issues In The American Higher-Education System And The Movement Toward Accountability

A number of changes have affected the higher-education landscape in the 21st century, but perhaps none of these changes are as significant as the movement toward greater accountability. The history of higher education in America has been one in which an exceptional amount of faith has been placed in these institutions of higher education to educate the newest generation of America’s young adults. This faith, however, has allowed institutions to operate without feeling pressure to be accountable for the education they provide to their students (American Association of State Colleges and Universities, 2006). Recently, however, greater attention has been placed on a number of issues affecting higher education, leading to an increased focus on accountability.

One prime issue affecting higher education is the rising cost of a college education. College prices were relatively stable during the 1970s, but increases in tuition and fees began to exceed rises in the consumer price index during the 1980s, causing much public concern about college affordability. Prices increased more rapidly during the earlier part of the 1990s, as costs of attending both public and private institutions rose between 10% and 14% per year (U.S. Department of Education, 2004). For the 2011-2012 academic year, the average cost of attending a private four-year institution stood at about $33,000. By comparison, the average cost of attending a private four-year institution in 1980 was just $13,000, after adjusting for inflation. The problem is not only limited to private institutions; public institutions currently charge an average of about $14,000 a year, which far exceeds the average yearly price of $6,500 in 1980 (U.S. Department of Education, 2013). Staggering as these numbers may be, there does not seem to be an end to the rise in costs in the foreseeable future. In fact, current projections indicate that by 2020 four years at a top-tier school will cost $328,000, and that by 2028, it will cost $598,000 (Taylor, 2011).

Another important issue is the question of how much students are learning in college. The National Association of Adult Literacy asserts that, between 1992 and 2003, average prose literacy (the ability to understand narrative texts, such as newspaper articles) decreased among those holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, as did average document literacy (the ability to understand practical information, such as instructions for taking medicine) (National Association of Adult Literacy, 2004). One consequence of this decline in literacy is that employers are increasingly complaining that American college graduates are not prepared for the workplace and lack the skill sets necessary for successful employment and continued career development. (U.S. Department of Education, 2006).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Performance-Based Assessments: Exams that are based on applying advanced cognitive skills that go beyond the recall of factual knowledge.

Variance: A statistical term used to explain how well one variable (e.g. CLA score) adds to the predictability of a second variable (e.g. GPA).

Career Readiness: Possession of skills necessary to secure employment and be successful in a work environment.

Value-Added Exams: Measures which estimate the impact that institutions have on students’ learning outcomes.

21st Century Skills: Advanced cognitive skills, such as critical thinking, which are considered to be important for success in the workplace.

CLA+: A postsecondary assessment that is comprised of a performance task and selected response questions.

Predictor: The accuracy with which one variable (e.g. SAT score) forecasts the score on a second variable (e.g. college GPA).

Higher-Order skills: Advanced cognitive skills, such as critical thinking, that go beyond the recall of factual knowledge.

Institutional Selectivity: The difficulty in achieving admission to an institution as defined by percent of applicants admitted.

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