Genesee Faculty Opposed to University-Wide Assessment, Board of Trustees Hears

The Academic Senate at Genesee Community College is opposed to the State University of New York's university-wide assessment initiative, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Claudia Moore and Michael A. Crittenden, Professor of Physics and Senate President reported to the Board of Trustees at the Monday, January 12, 2004 meeting. The Academic Senate's action came last month, and faculty members at SUNY colleges throughout the state have expressed similar opposition, Professor Crittenden told board members.

The university-wide assessment initiative is a SUNY effort to evaluate student learning outcomes across the state through some form of "normed" or standardized testing tools.

The Academic Senate at Genesee, comprised of faculty and staff members, is opposed to the SUNY initiative for a number of reasons, Dr. Moore and Professor Crittenden said. These include the inability of standardized tests to measure the achievement of specific course standards, the cost of the initiative, and possible lack of confidentiality and misuse of standardized test results. Also, the initiative is costly, and would take faculty members away from other pressing duties, Dr. Moore said.

The State University of New York has approved several major academic initiatives in recent years, Dr. Moore noted. They include the implementation of a system-wide general education curriculum, which requires all SUNY graduates to have mastered a variety of broad-based liberal arts skills, as well as a requirement that campuses assess the knowledge and skills that students gain from general education courses. SUNY also has adopted a requirement that individual academic programs and majors be externally evaluated every five to seven years. Genesee has met SUNY standards, Dr. Moore told the Board, and has had a strong general education program for many years. Also, Genesee has a long tradition of evaluating programs with the assistance of outside evaluators. Most important, Genesee faculty members are committed to program and course assessment, she said.

"Assessment in simple terms means that we have the tools to determine learning outcomes and that we are able to measure what students actually learn," Dr. Moore said. "We are opposed to the university-wide assessment initiative because we do not believe that it will give campuses the tools to perform effective assessments, and that it actually detracts from the very positive assessment work taking place at Genesee and many other SUNY campuses."

The University Faculty Senate, the Faculty Council of Community Colleges, the SUNY Community College Chief Academic Officers, and the Association of Presidents of Public Community Colleges have all expressed concerns and opposition over the university-wide assessment initiative.

In other business this evening, the Board of Trustees:

Heard Vice President for Student Services George W. Walker report that enrollment at Genesee Community College continues to push upward. As of January 5, 645 prospective full-time students had applied for admission, up 5.2% from the 613 prospective students who had applied a year earlier. Also as of January 5, 339 prospective students had applied for part-time studies, up 5.9% from the 320 students who had applied a year earlier. "The news continues to be good," Dr. Walker said. Overall enrollment is projected to be up about 6.5% during the Spring 2004 semester, President Stuart Steiner said.

Approved four-year continuing appointments for 31 members of the faculty and staff.