External examinations are used by many programs and departments at UF for a variety of purposes, including, but not limited to measuring student achievement in a program, professional licensure, and professional certification. These examinations provide faculty with valuable and useful information about student success in their programs.
External Examinations as Student Learning Outcome Measures
Every undergraduate, graduate, and professional program at UF has established program-level student learning outcomes (SLOs). These are measured using a diverse range of assessments, from exams to performances to portfolios. This diversity of measurement tools is one of the hallmarks of our excellence.
Our regional accreditor, SACSCOC, recently placed an institution on monitoring because one of their professional programs used an external examination as a measure of student learning in the program. Their rationale was that SLO measures must be those that are developed, administered, and graded by the faculty in the program where the student is learning. When faculty yield a program SLO to an external measure, they lose their control of it - they don't develop, administer, or grade it.
Therefore, external examinations should not be used as measures of program SLOs, unless the faculty have direct involvement in the development of the measure. In these cases, the faculty should report their involvement in the development of the external measure at the time of the annual Academic Assessment Data Report for their program (due the 3rd Monday of each October).
External Examinations as Program Goal Measures
While external examinations should not be used as measures program SLOs, they are appropriate as measures of program goals. For example, a program faculty might set a goal that 95% of their students will pass a particular external exam, or that 80% will pass a professional licensure exam on the first try, etc.