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Strategic Outcomes Assessment Review and Report (SOARR)
TCC SOARR...Taking Assessment to New Heights
Key Terms


Assessment is the systematic collection and analysis of information to improve student learning and program viability. According to noted author, Thomas A. Angelo, assessment involves "...making our expectations explicit and public; setting appropriate criteria and high expectations for learning quality; systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well performance matches those expectations and standards; and using the resulting information to document, explain, and improve performance..." ( Reassessing [and Defining] Assessment. AAHE Bulletin , November 1995, Volume 48 Number 3).


Assessment Measure:

An assessment measure is a data source or tool used to indicate outcome attainment. While it is desirable to use multiple assessment measures over different points in time, each outcome must have at least one assessment measure . Assessment measures for programmatic outcomes may include Productivity Reports (PAS), Factbook publication, OIE survey data (e.g., ACT Student Opinion Survey; Graduate, Employer, and Transfer Student Surveys), and other routine data reports posted on the OIE webpage (e.g., headcounts, FTES, graduates). Assessment measures for student learning outcomes may include direct and/or indirect measures.


Baby Steps:

“Baby steps” is a metaphor used to describe the assessment reporting process. As with a child's growth, assessment is a continuous process and a gradual sequencing from one stage of development to another.


Continuous Improvement Phase:

The “continuous phase” represents the second year a program embarks on the SOARR process (2006-07). Consistent with the “baby steps” approach to implementation, programs are required to continue documenting the 8 report elements described in the "Planning Phase". Additionally, program stakeholders are to (1) describe the implement any enhancement strategies; and (2) review and revise (if necessary) the programmatic and student learning outcomes, and assessment measures.


Direct Assessment Measure:

A direct assessment measure is a data source or tool used to indicate the attainment of a student learning outcome by directly observing student demonstration of their knowledge or skill. Examples of direct measures include: capstone course evaluation; classroom tests – teacher generated, standardized, industry certification test, oral exams, pop quizzes, pre-post testing; competency-based measures such as performance appraisals & internships, simulations and role playing; external reports such as judging of portfolios by industry professionals; and other direct measures such as teacher observations, class participation, research projects, thesis evaluations, portfolios, case studies, and reflection papers.



An enhancement is a planned activity or strategy aimed at improving the degree to which an outcome is attained. The articulation and implementation of these strategies are required for each outcome where a minimum standard has not been achieved, but are optional in cases where the minimum standard has been met.


Implementation Phase:

The “implementation phase” represents the second year a program embarks on the Program Review and Outcomes Assessment reporting process. Consistent with the “baby steps” approach to implementation, programs are required to establish minimum standards, collect and analyze data, report highlights, and identify enhancement strategies (if failure to meet a minimum standard).


Indirect Assessment Measure:

An indirect measure differs from a direct measure in that an indirect measure indicates ones opinion or perceived attainment of a student learning outcome. A direct measure assesses students’ demonstrated understanding or skill application, while an indirect measure assesses the perceived level of understanding or skill. Examples of indirect measures include: self-reported data such as survey/perception data from graduates, students, parents, employers; exit interviews; and curriculum and syllabus analysis.


M & M Rule:

When writing intended outcomes and identifying assessment measures, the data collection process must be Manageable yet produce Meaningful results.


Planning Phase:

The “planning phase” represents the first year a program embarks on the SOARR process (2005-06). Consistent with the “baby steps” approach to implementation, programs are required to (1) complete a curriculum map which lists all student learning outcomes and the courses in which they are taught; (2) describe the planning processes and activities that led to the currently taught curriculum; (3) perform trend analysis of the programmatic data such as new students, retention rates, and graduates; (4) target at least three student learning outcomes deemed critical to the program; (5) perform trend analysis of enrollment and course success rates for each of the targeted learning outcomes; (6) identify direct, course-embedded measures to be collected and tracked each semester; (7) describe the curricular and program enhancements that were a result of the processes, activities, and analysis described in the report; and (8) develop an action plan with strategies to address areas for improvement.


Programmatic Outcome:

A programmatic outcome is a goal that is non-student in nature and indicates a program’s viability and effectiveness. These outcomes may involve faculty productivity data (e.g., utilized and generated FTEF, total course credit hours); enrollment growth (e.g., headcounts, FTEs); grade distribution data; graduate, new student, and retention rates; perceptual survey data; etc.



An acronym that stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Coined by the Center for Performance Assessment, the acronym represents a guiding standard for writing outcomes.


Student Learning Outcome:

A student learning outcome is an essential knowledge or skill that students demonstrate as a result of completing a program or course of study. Furthermore, it can be viewed as a critical knowledge or skill demanded by business, industry, or four-year institutions of higher education.