Back See this section in context: Criterion 2 Core Component 2C
2C.4: Support for Planning and Assessment
Between the 2002 Reaffirmation of Accreditation Visit and the 2006 Focused Visit, Sauk made a significant investment in staff time to develop new systems for both assessment and strategic planning. In the Focused Visit report, the college expressed concern that the level of investment was not sustainable over the long term, but recognized that both systems would have to be supported adequately to maintain them. As the systems have matured, assessment and planning processes are clearly supported through multiple avenues:
- Personnel: The budget includes compensation for several leadership positions in assessment and planning:
- The Dean of Institutional Research and Planning and an administrative assistant oversee and maintain the various planning processes, including the committee structure, as job duties.
- Area Facilitators are faculty leaders in operational planning, program review, and assessment who receive compensation for that leadership.
- The Assessment Core Team, the faculty committee that oversees the faculty assessment of academic achievement, requests compensation for major tasks the group deems necessary, including data management and plan revision. Once approved, these requests are directed into the budget process and have received appropriate levels of funding.
- Time: Sauk employees are provided the time to contribute to the planning and assessment processes. Recent examples include strategic planning focus groups in spring 2010, departmental and academic area meetings, participation on OPIC and other cross-institutional committees, and in-service activities related to planning. In addition, the college has negotiated a bi-monthly faculty meeting hour that allows time for essential full-time faculty discussions related to the assessment and planning processes.
- Data collection: While some data results have been consistent enough to warrant a move away from the burdensome expense of annual testing to sustainable levels of periodic testing, Sauk budgets regularly for the cost of several data collection tools:
- CAAP: After providing the ACT CAAP test annually, the faculty determined that a sample every three years was adequate to provide external confirmation of several competencies. The college funds the cost of the testing and incentives for participants. For example, in spring 2010, each student participating in the test received a $5 meal card at the cafeteria, and students who scored above national norms had their names placed in a drawing for two prizes of $100.
- Noel Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI): The SSI, which surveys students’ opinions on topics such as class scheduling, the registration process, resources, staff, and safety, is scheduled to be conducted every four years. However, due to budget issues and staff changes, Sauk had a 6-year gap between the two most recent surveys. The results of the 2010 survey were analyzed by the Dean of Student Services. Activities planned in response have been noted in the FY11 Operational Plan.
- Assessment data storage: Sauk maintains in-house storage of its assessment data as a better fitting alternative than a purchased system. The system is developed and maintained by compensated faculty on the Assessment Core Team, supported by Information Systems staff.
- Professional development: There is no emphasis for employees to participate in external professional development related to planning, although in-service agendas provide a record of in-house sessions on strategic planning. For example, the spring 2010 in-service included a presentation by OPIC members to the college community of the new Strategic Directions and the alignment of the planning systems. The annual reports from the Assessment Committee show that regular opportunities for assessment-related professional development are being provided, both through conference attendance (for example, the Illinois Community College Assessment Fair) and through in-house events, especially those related to the general education competencies.
Despite budgetary challenges, Sauk continues to provide adequate monetary support for strategic planning and for assessment of student learning. The mechanisms currently in place will remain vital to the college's ability to maintain its structured planning and assessment processes and continue the progress that has occurred over the last five years.