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Assessment and accountability are embedded in the context in which most colleges and universities operate. In the current climate, one is deeply entwined with the other. Originally, assessment in higher education meant assessing students. The broader appeal of the concept quickly claimed the attention of a multitude of constituents within the academy, each with a different goal in mind – from program review to public relations. Those whose relationship to the academy was once or twice removed, such as trustees, accreditors, and legislators, saw assessment as a simple and cost effective means to report information about the effectiveness of complex organizational processes as a way to hold institutions accountable. Especially in times of economic upheaval, “accountability” held much promise for those watching the bottom line.


The following Brief from the New England Resource Center for Higher Education (NERCHE) is a distillation of collaborative work of members of NERCHE's ongoing think tanks for administrators and faculty in the New England region. NERCHE Briefs emphasize policy implications and action agendas from the point of view of the people who tackle the most compelling issues in higher education in their daily work lives. With support from the Ford Foundation, NERCHE disseminates these pieces to a targeted audience of legislators, college and university presidents and system heads, and media contacts. The Briefs are designed to add critical information and essential voices to the policy decisions that leaders in higher education address.


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