On Transposing Assessment Scales and Mapping to WSU 6


Re: mapping to WSU 6
An inquiring program point wants to know:

A score of 4 is entry level competency, and we will transpose that scale for all programs.  It is absolute, not weighted by us.  (Entry level written communication for your program may not mean the same thing for another,  so our work, not yours, may get a bit messy.)  We will adjust scores according to the scales programs use. So your four point scale with the entry level score of 2(?) becomes a four on the institutional, aggregate report.  Performance doesn’t equate to year in school, either.  We need to be cognizant of ceiling effects. In other words, there is no reason a first year student might not score at a 5 or 6, and, as we have experienced in one program, graduate students assessed anonymously did not perform better than upper division students, and in fact, they did not on average perform at entry level competency.  It’s that absolute scale again.  We have learned, too, that nothing constrains student performance more clearly than low expectations. (As George Kuh noted, we sometimes put the bar so low that students trip over it.)  The goal for graduating seniors (ideally assessed in capstone courses or their equivalent) is anchored at four and other levels of performance radiate from there.   We want to be able to report that “All WSU graduates are held accountable to levels of performance in their programs on standards that are affirmed by professionals and WSU faculty working in collaboration.”  That’s our first line.

“All WSU programs are responsive to those standards and make curricular and pedagogical changes in that context,” is our second.  We want to hold that actual percentages of students performing at competence in abeyance as long as we can.  As a qualification, there are innumerable studies in multiple modes that confirm that graduates from institutions of higher education are NOT being adequately prepared, so the scores in the histogram below are not unusual or, all things considered, even remotely disappointing.  In fact the program’s  work that evinced those scores is exemplary and, not incidentally, sustainable.  In other words, the gold standard for now — for WSU and for NWCC&U and for the HEC Board — and for the foreseeable future is not about showing off results, but showing off the commitment to responsible assessment.

Figure 2:  Disciplinary Scores Reallocated to the WSU 6 Goals of the Baccalaureate*

*The Blue Arrow Indicates Anchored Entry Level Competency

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