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Standardized Assessment of Student Learning in General Education


The Regents of the university passed a resolution requiring standardized testing of a sample of undergraduate students at all three University of Colorado campuses every three years. Over two academic years at the University of Colorado Denver, 547 freshman and 300 seniors have been tested. Plans are in place for the 2013-2014 academic year to test an additional 200 freshman and 200 seniors.


The University of Colorado Denver is using the abbreviated ETS Proficiency Profile (formerly called the Measure of Academic Proficiency and Progress, or MAPP test), which assesses 4 core skill areas--critical thinking, reading, writing and mathematics--in a 40 minute, paper-and-pencil, multiple choice test that the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) has selected as a gauge of general education outcomes.

Voluntary System of Accountability and the College Portrait

The Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) is a voluntary initiative for four-year public colleges and universities. A collaborative effort of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), the VSA is designed to improve public understanding of how public colleges and universities operate. The VSA is aimed at providing consistent, transparent, and comparable information on the characteristics of institutions and their students. The VSA has designed a common reporting template called the College Portrait which includes standardized assessment scores for undergraduate students. The ETS Proficiency Profile is one of the three tests approved by the VSA, and the results of the tests are posted on the University of Colorado Denver's College Portrait.

Use of the Information

The analyses compare the performance of a) freshmen and seniors at CU Denver with students at peer institutions, and b) CU Denver freshmen with CU Denver seniors to determine the “value-added” of a CU Denver education, c) individual student performance over time. The results will be used to advance teaching and learning, and for system accountability and university accreditation.


Results for the 2009-2010 + 2010-2011 academic years indicate that CU Denver students score on par with or above students at comparison universities and that CU Denver seniors outperform -freshmen overall and in all sub-areas, suggesting that a CU Denver education makes an important contribution to students' academic development.

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