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.)

Therefore, grades cannot be used as SLO measures. There are no exceptions to this rule.



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.