Graduating students face one last test
By Barb Teed
NCC graduates are above the national average in reading, mathematics, critical thinking and writing/essay, said Tony Dunlop, math instructor and coordinator of the College Assessment of Academic Proficiency test. Students are required to take the CAAP before receiving their NCC degree.
The test assesses skills that students should have developed as a result of their education at NCC, according to a letter being sent to students written by Dunlop.
“The results give statistically significant evidence, with a 99 percent confidence level, that our A.A. graduates are above the national average,” he said.
Dunlop said 409 students took the CAAP last year, with about 100 for each of the subtests. “Last year was the first year of the administration of the CAAP to such a large cross-section of our students,” Dunlop said. “Before that it was given to a largely self-selected group, which renders any results statistically
Dunlop said the 2004-05 Student Outcomes Assessment Committee made the decision to utilize the CAAP for A.A. recipients and last year’s graduates were the first tested. While past committee members consisted of NCC faculty, Dunlop said this year’s committee has not formed yet but feels students can contribute once it has. “I expect the members would welcome student input and comments on the ongoing process of assessing student learning here,” he said. Dunlop does not serve on the committee but carries out decisions made by its members, he said.
Whether the student’s above average test scores are the result of coursework at NCC or if they came already knowledgeable is not known, according to Dunlop. “We will be analyzing this question this year,” he said. The committee will decide on specific action to be taken as a result of the test scores, Dunlop said.
Minnesota State Community and Technical College Fergus Falls has used the CAAP to asses their students, according to Dunlop. He said most campus assessments of graduates are not widely identified so he was not familiar with other campuses that offer CAAP. “We all operate with a great deal of autonomy,” he said.
The cost of running the CAAP is a $360 base fee, plus a per-student fee of $12, Dunlop said. He said he expects about 600 students will take the CAAP this year. In addition to those costs, $300 is charged for a “linkage” report which compares placement scores with CAAP scores to measure student improvement. “We did not do this last year, but we will this year," he said.
There is no required CAAP score for graduation and all information will be kept anonymous, according to the letter. Students will receive personal information
on how well their skills compare with other students and how much they have grown in their years at NCC.
Regular assessments also maintain NCC’s regional accreditation, the letter said.
409 NCC students have taken the College Assessment of Academic Proficiency test. The results show NCC students above the national mean. The test measures
skills students have learned while at NCC. The CAAP is given to graduating students and began last year.