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Academic Assessment Council


The Academic Assessment Council (AAC) was organized by the Academic Senate via its "Resolution on Coordinated Campus Assessment Efforts" (AS-735-11). As outlined in that resolution, the responsibilities of the AAC include the following.

Principles of Assessment for the AAC

The purpose of assessment is to improve student learning. The assessment process should include the collection, the analysis, and the distribution of data at the student level, the program level, and the university level. Likewise, the work of assessment should be shared equitably, both within and between levels (faculty, programs, colleges, and university). Ideally, assessment will generate useful information about student learning while adding only minimally to faculty and administrative workloads. One primary method of achieving that goal is to coordinate existing assessment efforts and make future efforts more predictable, by identifying which activities occur in a given year. The main mission of the AAC is to carry out those coordinating and planning activities.

Campus assessment efforts should seek to centralize data collection and coordination, while decentralizing substantive decisions about how assessment is done and what criteria are used. Program faculty should have the maximum feasible control over deciding how and where to assess student learning. Creative approaches should be encouraged.

Regardless of the methods program faculty use to assess student learning, all programs have an obligation to annually report to the AAC their methodology and findings, to reflect on what the findings reveal about student learning, to identify areas of possible improvement, to develop plans about implementing improvements, and to later assess whether curriculum changes have actually improved student learning.


Cal Poly’s assessment efforts need to become more predictable, more efficient, and better coordinated. Faculty workload needs to be reduced while still maintaining a faculty-driven process for program improvement. Ideally, this will ensure that program faculty have adequate assessment data, including data on student learning and attitudes, for program review, that the colleges and university have adequate assessment data for reaccreditation, that student learning is actually improved, and that assessment is integrated into existing activities to the extent possible, thus avoiding creating excess work.

To achieve these goals, the responsibilities of the AAC shall be as follows:

  1. Lead and coordinate campus assessment efforts.
  2. Create a central repository for information and resources related to assessment (i.e., rubrics, lists of best practices within and outside Cal Poly, and so on).
  3. Ensure that data needed for program review and WASC are generated and store appropriately.
  4. To the extent necessary and possible, create a central repository for assessment data.
  5. Review the annual reports of program- and college-level assessment efforts.
  6. Report the results of assessment efforts to the campus community.

On-Going Duties

  1. Create a multi-year schedule for assessment, so that at a minimum all learning objectives are assessed by all programs at least once between WASC cycles (i.e., every 10 years).
  2. Coordinate and create a multi-year schedule for indirect assessment efforts, for example surveys of seniors, alumni, and/or employers. An example of such coordination might be identifying an office that could conduct these surveys on behalf of programs and act as repository for the data. Another example might be creating and circulating a standard survey format that could be adopted by programs and colleges, with program-specific additions.
  3. Receive and review the annual assessment reports generated by all academic programs on campus. Identify common needs and campus-wide assessment resources to meet them. The committee may, in consultation with the various programs and colleges, elect to review college-level, aggregated reports, instead of the reports of individual programs.
  4. Generate and circulate to all programs an annual summary report about campus assessment efforts, aimed at identifying best practices, areas of strength and weakness, success stories, and so on.
  5. Identify offices and procedures by which existing data useful for assessment will be gathered, analyzed, stored, and disseminated. The committee shall find ways to make best use of existing data, so that information needed for assessment can be derived from existing sources, to the extent possible.
  6. Identify possible new sources of data and offices to gather, analyze, store, and disseminate them. An example of such a new source of data might be student portfolios.
  7. Identify and propose changes to existing assessment tools to improve their utility for assessment.
  8. Identify existing sources of data that could be used for assessment, for example Writing Proficiency Exam scores.
  9. Identify existing assessment activities and processes, and take steps to coordinate them.
  10. Evaluate how to balance needs and resources regarding assessment.
  11. Investigate the possibility of creating an office to coordinate and store information about assessment best practices, campus-wide rubrics, the results of previous assessment efforts, and so on. The committee is encouraged to consider whether the Center for Teaching and Learning might fill this role.
  12. Ensure that assessment data be made available to faculty, as needed.


The AAC membership was recently revised and approved by the Senate via its "Resolution on New Academic Assessment Council Membership" (AS-909-21).

A current roster may be found here.

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