SOME KEY POINTS FOR REVIEW OF SOA PLANS • Assessment plan = written description of assessment strategy The assessment plan is the written description of the assessment strategies that a program area will use for assessing student learning in the program. The written assessment plan serves several purposes. It is: o o o o o • A “roadmap” for conducting assessment activities; A tool for explaining program assessment activities to new faculty or administrators, external reviewers, and other stakeholders for the program; A way to track progress and change in program assessment activities across time; A springboard for future assessment activity; A timesaver in writing program reports. Assessment plan ≠ assessment strategy Assessment strategies may be justified and thoughtful but presented in a plan that is not clear or complete. A goal in writing a plan is to create a written description of assessment strategies that can be read and understood without additional information, by an “outsider” right now or by an “insider” several years from now. • An assessment plan is only as good as its implementation. Implementation includes a range of activities: Are assessment activities carried out as described in the plan? Are they implemented on an ongoing basis? If not, are records kept to document what was not done and why, to assist with evaluation and revision of assessment strategies? Are data from the assessment activities analyzed, evaluated, reported, and archived? • Archiving is a key component of effective assessment of student learning. Assessment plans, reports, and related data should be kept, preferably in electronic formats, where they will be accessible over time and available to faculty and staff who will make use of them in future assessment planning, reporting, and tracking activities. • Assessment plans need to be dated and current. Program needs evolve, student populations change over time, some assessment strategies work better than others or provide more useful information than others. Thus, assessment plans change over time. Reviewing assessment plans as part of the yearly assessment evaluation and reporting process keeps plans ready to implement. Including the date of review or revision at the end of each planning document simplifies archiving and recordkeeping and saves time that might be spent in hunting for documents and “reinventing” history.