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Student Assessment

Assessment of Learning

The Maricopa District Student Academic Achievement Assessment Council (DSAAAC) is the district-wide committee that supports college assessment efforts, encourages sharing of assessment practices and successes, and provides various forums and dialogues related to student learning and assessment. The DSAAAC is supported by the Division of Academic and Student Affairs.

“District Statement on Assessment”

The purpose of assessment in the Maricopa Community Colleges is to improve teaching and student learning in support of the Governing Board’s goal of post-secondary competencies. according to the District Student Academic Achievement Assessment Committee (DSAAAC).

The key characteristics of assessment are:

• Owned and driven by faculty
• Directed by local colleges
• Involves multiple methods
• Ensures an ongoing, sustainable process of review
• Uses results to contribute to curriculum, budget and planning
• May be addressed on various levels (i.e., course, program, institutional).

All of the Maricopa Colleges have been actively engaged in assessment work since the early 1990’s, deploying and sustaining plans for systematic assessment of postsecondary student competencies.  These plans are integral to improving student learning and focus primarily on measures of specific student learning outcomes, which rely on integration into each college’s processes for program reviews, department and college planning, and budgeting.

District support for assessment work includes:  providing support and resources for assessment forums for faculty development and sharing of best practices, funding for workshops, conferences and guest speakers, and providing resources such as time to create and sustain assessment programs and to develop specific assessment tools.

The college assessment initiatives clearly show the distinct natures and common commitment of the Maricopa colleges to their students.

Assessment Monitoring Report: 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09

The group also sponsors various forums and dialogues for faculty and administrators. Recent topics include:  helping the under prepared students to succeed, moving from competencies to outcomes, sharing recent re-accreditation processes and interests, to note a few.

Updates on College Assessment

Each year, the Maricopa colleges share a brief update on the most recent assessment work with the Governing Board and the Chancellor’s Executive Council (of Vice Chancellors and College Presidents).  This update is compiled by the District Student Academic Achievement Assessment Committee (DSAAAC) with the support of the Division of Academic and Student Affairs.

Observations and perspectives from reaccredidation efforts: 

Chandler-Gilbert Community College“Assessment and Accreditation at Chandler-Gilbert Community College”

Paradise Valley Community College“Incorporating the Self-Study Process into the Campus Culture” 

Self Study Reports by the Maricopa Community Colleges

These are the self-study or assessment sites provided by the colleges:

Chandler-Gilbert Community College

Estrella Mountain Community College

Glendale Community College

Gateway Community College

Mesa Community College

Paradise Valley Community College

Phoenix College

Rio Salado College

Scottsdale Community College

South Mountain Community College

Next Self-Study Reporting to Higer Education Commission

College Last Evaluation Next Evaluation
Chandler-Gilbert Community College 2006-2007 2016-2017
Estrella Mountain Community College 2001-2002 2011-2012
Glendale Community College 2001-2002 2011-2012
Gateway Community College 1999-2000 2009-2010
Mesa Community College 2004-2005 2014-2015
Paradise Valley Community College 2004-2005 2014-2015
Phoenix College 2005-2006 2015-2016
Rio Salado College 2001-2002 2011-2012
Scottsdale Community College 2006-2007 2016-2017
South Mountain Community College 2008-2009 2018-2019


MOU with NCA’s Higher Learning Commission for Financial Reporting

The District and the NCA have a memorandum of understanding regarding financial reporting at the system level and for the colleges to be able to include that report in individual Maricopa College reporting the NCA. Download the MOU

State Board and Arizona Association of Community Colleges

A state board for the community colleges no longer exists.  A statewide association (the Arizona Community College Association) has assumed some roles, notably, the compiling of college reports for the legislature.

Assessment Resources – A Sampling

Benchmarking Resources

Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE)

Over the next several years, eight MCCCD colleges expect to administer the survey.
The CCSSE is administered directly to community college students at CCSSE member colleges in randomly selected classes. It asks about institutional practices and student behaviors that are highly correlated with student learning and retention (such as student interaction with faculty).  The results are provided to the public for the total CCSSE population, subgroups within the total population, and individual colleges.  Results are provided on national and institutional benchmarks.

Noel Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI)

Several Maricopa Colleges have participated routinely in the Noel Levitz survey of students to determine what aspects of the community college students care most about and how well those expectations are being, and how do the college compare with similar institutions nationally.  The SSI questions cover 12 factors (such as academic advising, campus climate, concern for the individual, instructional effectiveness, and recruitment).

Initiative at State Levels to Track Students

Data Quality Campaign (DQC)

The DQC, with the National center for Education Accountability, surveyed States about their state data systems as to which of 10 essential elements of a longitudinal student data system would be in place as of 2006-07.  A longitudinal data –data gathered on the same student from year to year – would enable schools to look at students academic progress from year to year.  For example, a very basic element is a unique statewide student identifier (code#) that connects student data across key databases (for e.g., between high schools, or between high schools and colleges.

Arizona can only address 1 of the 6 questions, on graduation rate. Arizona does not have a statewide, coherent and consistent database across grade school, high school, community college and university; however, it has legislated a unique student identifier for all high school students and a recording of that information at the public colleges which is in process of being implemented.

1. Which schools produce the strongest academic growth for their students? (27 states can answer this question; Arizona cannot)
2. What achievement levels in middle school indicate that a student is on track to succeed in rigorous courses in high school? (5 states can answer this question; Arizona cannot.
3. What is each school's graduation rate, according to the 2005 National Governors Association graduation compact? (Arizona is 1 of 28 states who can answer this question.)
4. What high school performance indicators (e.g., enrollment in rigorous courses or performance on state tests) are the best predictors of students' success in college or the workplace? (4 states can answer this question; Arizona cannot.
5. What percentage of high school graduates who go on to college take remedial courses? (14 states can answer this question; Arizona cannot.)
6. Which teacher preparation programs produce the graduates whose students have the strongest academic growth? (10 states can answer this question; Arizona cannot.)

Plans for Institutional Assessment or Effectiveness– Some Examples

Alverno College Diagnostic Tool

Alverno uses a web-based system – Diagnostic Digital Portfolio (DDP) which enables their students – anyplace, anytime - to follow their learning progress throughout their study at the college.  Students can review actual performance data, feedback they receive from faculty, external assessors and peers, as well as look for patterns in their academic work. The DDP is built on Alverno's student assessment-as-learning process. 

By being to look at their own performance data and how they succeed over time, they can take more ownership of their own development.  Graduates can then create an electronic resume for either potential employers or for graduate schools.

Howard Community College

HCC provides an Academic Plan comprised of goals, objectives, cost, oversight and performance.  Key areas are addressed: learning environment, organizational effectiveness, staffing and infrastructure.

Johnson County Community College

JCCC provides a strategic plan assessment matrix which includes the strategic goals, objectives, initiatives, indicators, targets and current performance.  These include student learning as well as other institutional goals.

Richland Community College

Richland College (which is part of the Dallas County Community Colleges District) recently won the prestigious national quality award -- the Malcolm Baldridge Award and the Texas award for educational excellence, in 2005.

Sinclair Community College

Sinclair defines assessment as a “shared process of purposeful, systematic measurement used to document, reflect upon, and improve student learning. In order to better understand and operationalize their assessment practices, they provide a distinction between Assessment and Evaluation. “Evaluation is the analysis and use of data by faculty to make judgments about student performance. Evaluation includes the determination of a grade or a decision regarding pass/fail for an individual assignment or for a course.”  “Assessment is the analysis and use of data by students, faculty, and/or departments to make decisions about improvements in teaching and learning. This description is congruent with the College’s definition.”

Other Resources


Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 

Practical Assessment, Research and Evaluation (PARE)

New Directions Evaluation

New Directions for Institutional Research

Assessment Update (newsletter)


Council for Higher Education Accreditation (2003). Statement of Mutual Responsibilities for Student Learning Outcomes: Accreditation, Institutions and Programs. Washington, DC: Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Ewell, Peter T. (2001). Accreditation and Student Learning Outcomes: A Proposed Point of Departure. Washington, DC: Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Evaluation Planning, and Assessment Strategies (various resources)

Higher Education Outcomes Assessment (various resources including
Individual Institutions' Assessment - Related Pages

Internet Resources for Higher Education Outcomes Assessment

Maricopa Community Colleges - 2411 W. 14th St - Phoenix, Arizona 85281