Course Grades cannot be used as SLO Measures
When program-level Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) are assessed in a course, it is easy to conclude that the course grade is an acceptable measurement of the program SLO addressed in that course. However, course grades often are, appropriately, a composite representation of multiple direct assessments and grading criteria. Because the calculation of a course grade often involves a combination of various information sources that include data unrelated to the SLO (i.e., attendance, participation, assessments of other objectives), the course grade does not directly represent the student’s achievement of the SLO. This weakens the validity of the course grade as a measure of the SLO because appropriate evidence to support the interpretation of the course grade for its intended use as an SLO achievement measure cannot be adequately established (AERA, APA, & NCME, p. 11.)
As a general practice, course grades are not an appropriate measure of an program SLO. However, exceptions do exist, and the Academic Assessment Committee reviews these types of requests carefully. For example, in a course in which all assessments relate to the SLO and the overwhelming majority of the grade is based on these direct assessments (and not other factors such as participation and attendance), a course grade may be determined to be a valid measure of student achievement of the SLOs.
To request Academic Assessment Committee approval of using a course grade as an SLO measure, please submit the request through the ALC/AAP path in the approval system, and follow the instructions for AAP modification.
Course-embedded Assessment Grades can be used as SLO Measures
Faculty should identify the specific assessment that provides direct evidence of student achievement of the SLO in the Assessment Plan. Assignment grades/exam scores are appropriate measures if they provide direct evidence of SLO achievement.
American Educational Research Association (AERA), American Psychological Association (APA), & National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME). (2014). Standards for educational and psychological testing. Washington, DC: Authors.