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California State University, Sacramento College Portrait

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California State University, Sacramento Learning Outcomes

Sacramento State employs a campus-wide assessment strategy to provide evidence of curricular and co-curricular student learning. The Division of Academic Affairs oversees curricular assessment, while the Division of Student Affairs carries out co-curricular assessment. For several years, leaders and staff from both divisions have come together to discuss, measure, and report on student learning outcomes in their respective areas. In addition, the Provost and the Vice President for Student Affairs are developing a more integrated system to measure student learning, replacing the artificial separation of academic and student affairs with a holistic approach to overall student learning.

Until the integration is complete, two concurrent processes are in play. On the academic side, each department implements an assessment plan as part of its annual report. Academic Affairs then synthesizes these reports and provides feedback to the Colleges and departments in order to promote organizational learning and a campus-wide culture of continuous program improvement. The Provost’s Advisory Committee on Assessment (PACA) meets on a bimonthly basis to examine assessment issues and develop recommendations to the Provost for ongoing improvement of the assessment strategy.

On the Student Affairs side, the directors of each of the Division’s 20+ departments work with their staffs to create an annual assessment plan that measures program improvements and student learning. Program objectives measure achievement of annual goals to improve program efficiency, quality, and/or number of students served. Student learning outcomes assess what students may have learned or how their attitudes or behaviors may have changed after participating in a program or service.

The information gathered from assessments is used to design and implement program changes as needed. Student Affairs program directors design their assessment plans during the summer. Data collection ensues during the fall and spring semesters, and results and conclusions are posted on the Division’s website by the beginning of the following fall term.

Sacramento State uses the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) in order to measure how much students learn over the course of their academic career. The CLA measures critical thinking, analytic reasoning, problem solving, and written communication using a performance task and an analytic writing task. Each year, the test is administered to a group of freshmen and a group of seniors. Results for 2012-13 are summarized below:

CLA Performance Task: Average Scores
Freshmen: 922
Seniors: 1157

CLA Analytic Writing Task: Average Scores
Freshmen: 1021
Seniors: 1151

Comparing the scores of seniors and freshmen, Sacramento State achieved improvement levels similar to or greater than those of other colleges and universities with similar student populations.

Additional information about the CLA can be obtained from the Council for Aid to Education, which designs the CLA.




California State University, Sacramento administered the CLA+ in 2012, Fall Term - 2013, Spring Term.

California State University, Sacramento conducted a Value-added administration of the CLA+ in 2012, Fall Term - 2013, Spring Term. The results are displayed below in the SLO Results tab.

For additional information on Sac State’s process for administering CLA+, please click on the Assessment Process Tab below. For information on the students included in the administration, please click the Students Tested Tab.

Why did you choose the CLA+ for your institutional assessment?

All campuses within the CSU are mandated by the Chancellor's Office to administer the CLA each year among incoming first year students and graduating seniors. The test helps the campus obtain a sense of the value the institution added to higher order competencies between entry and graduation. The CLA also enables us to examine our results relative to other participating universities with similar student characteristics.


Which California State University, Sacramento students are assessed? When?

The CLA is administered in the Fall among a sample of 100 First Year students and in the Spring Semester among a sample of 100 graduating seniors.


How are assessment data collected?

Assessment data are obtained through student responses to the test instrument that is designed by CLA.   The test instrument contains performance tasks and analytic-writing tasks. Witten responses to the tasks are graded to assess high-order abilities (e.g., crtical thinking, problem solving skills, written communication). The test instrument is administered online at specified proctored test sessions in our computer labs and submitted directly to the national CLA Office.  


How are data reported within California State University, Sacramento?

CLA sends the University an annual Institutional Report based on institutional level analysis (to aid institutional comparison) as opposed to student-level data. The analysis reports on the overall institutional scores for each of the task categories including means, standard deviation, percentile rank of schools and a statistical calculation to obtain a value-added coefficiency score indicating the degree to which the school meets, exceeds, or falls below expecation based on the Entering Academic Ability score establidhed for the institution.


How are assessment data at Sac State used to guide program improvements?

As the University develops its own internal rubrics and tools to assess core competencies such as critical thinking at graduation , we are referring to the data obtained from the CLA to guide more enhanced methods of collecting this type of assesment data especially to support many of our General Education courses/plans of study.


Of 4649 freshmen students eligible to be tested, 134 (3%) were included in the tested sample at California State University, Sacramento.


Of 934 senior students eligible to be tested, 85 (9%) were included in the tested sample at California State University, Sacramento.


Probability sampling, where a small randomly selected sample of a larger population can be used to estimate the learning gains in the entire population with statistical confidence, provides the foundation for campus-level student learning outcomes assessment at many institutions. It's important, however, to review the demographics of the tested sample of students to ensure that the proportion of students within a given group in the tested sample is close to the proportion of students in that group in the total population. Differences in proportions don't mean the results aren't valid, but they do mean that institutions need to use caution in interpreting the results for the groups that are under-represented in the tested sample.

Undergraduate Student Demographic Breakdown

  Freshmen Seniors
Eligible Students Tested Students Eligible Students Tested Students
Gender Female 59% 72% 63% 76%
Male 41% 28% 37% 34%
Other or Unknown <1% <1% <1% <1%
Race/
Ethnicity
US Underrepresented Minority 66% 81% 56% 64%
White / Caucasian 28% 10% 36% 34%
International 4% <1% <1% <1%
Unknown 2% 5% 8% 13%
Low-income (Eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant) 45% 72% 43% 47%
Area of Study Sciences and Engineering 0% 0% 0% 0%
Social Sciences 0% 0% 0% 0%
Humanities and Languages 0% 0% 0% 0%
Business 0% 0% 0% 0%
Helping / Services 0% 0% 0% 0%
Undecided / Other / N/A 0% 0% 0% 0%

Our tested students were generally quite represenatative of the proportion of students that exist in our student body. But given our heightened interest in improving retention and graduation rates among some of our underrepsented minority groups, we will undertake greater scrutiny of the results as disaggregated for these groups in some of the majors where the concerns are recurring. 

The VSA advises institutions to follow assessment publisher guidelines for determining the appropriate number of students to test. In the absence of publisher guidelines, the VSA provides sample size guidelines for institutions based on a 95% confidence interval and 5% margin of error. So long as the tested sample demographics represent the student body, this means we can be 95% certain that the "true" population learning outcomes are with +/- 5% of the reported results. For more information on Sampling, please refer to the Research Methods Knowledge Base

The increase in learning on the performance task is at or near what would be expected at an institution testing students of similar academic abilities.

The increase in learning on the selected-response questions is at or near what would be expected what would be epxected at an institution testing students of similar academic abilities.

Seniors Detail

The charts below show the proportion of tested seniors who scored at each level of the nine subscales that make up the CLA+. The subscale scores range from 1 to 6 with 6 representing a higher or better score. Due to rounding, subscores may not total 100%.

Performance Task
Analysis & Problem Solving
Writing Effectiveness
Writing Mechanics

The table below shows students' mean scores on the three subscales that make up the Selected-Response Questions section of the CLA+. The students subscores are determined by the number of correct responses in each subsection, with those raw numbers adjusted based on the difficulty of the question set the students received. Individual student scores are rounded to the nearest whole number.

Subscale Mean Student Scores
Scientific & Quantitative Reasoning (Range: 200 to 800) 534.0
Critical Reading & Evaluation (Range: 200 to 800) 522.0
Critique an Argument (Range: 200 to 800) 533.0
Freshmen Detail

The charts below show the proportion of tested freshmen who scored at each level of the nine subscales that make up the CLA+. The subscale scores range from 1 to 6 with 6 representing a higher or better score. Due to rounding, subscores may not total 100%.

Performance Task
Analysis & Problem Solving
Writing Effectiveness
Writing Mechanics

The table below shows students' mean scores on the three subscales that make up the Selected-Response Questions section of the CLA+. The students subscores are determined by the number of correct responses in each subsection, with those raw numbers adjusted based on the difficulty of the question set the students received. Individual student scores are rounded to the nearest whole number.

Subscale Mean Student Scores
Scientific & Quantitative Reasoning (Range: 200 to 800) 473.0
Critical Reading & Evaluation (Range: 200 to 800) 463.0
Critique an Argument (Range: 200 to 800) 489.0