Testing is an integral part of any college, including Salt Lake Community College. But while tests are one way to measure a student’s absorption and retention of a particular subject, there is more to learning than just a score.
Putting such a high emphasis on test scores may actually be a hindrance to students and also a college’s overall ranking. Since every student learns differently, making a generalized testing system the only means by which a student can progress is subtracting from the ability to learn.
The math department at SLCC has instituted a rule for Math 1010; if a student gets below 60% on the final exam then their final grade will be no higher than a D for the entire class. The rule reduces the amount of students who barely pass Math 1010 and fail their next math course.
A similar rule is in place for developmental math courses. But hinging everything on only one test may not be the best way to assess a student’s knowledge.
Aside from the Math 1010 rule, SLCC is trying to determine a student’s overall progress through other factors called learning outcomes, which are based off of rubrics from the National Association of American Colleges and Universities.
The learning outcomes are guidelines for what SLCC wants a student to achieve and be able to implement when finished with a particular degree.
“Testing is an important component as to how students get a good grade, but the institution is keenly interested in assessing student assignments to see whether they are meeting out learning outcomes,” says David Hubert, assistant provost of learning advancement.
Although SLCC is gearing up to focus on more than just an exam score or a single test score, it still has policies in place, like the Math 1010 rule, that only focus on one test score for the entire class.
Testing not only affects students, but a school’s accreditation as well.
When a college or university does not consistently provide good test scores, then the institution will experience a decrease in accreditation. In order to focus on more than just test scores a college or university must change its stated purpose to focus on different assessments.
SLCC could improve its accreditation and lower student stress if the college shifts its purpose towards learning outcomes and away from a single test score.