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Tag Archives: Assessment

by Dianne M. Cearlock, PhD, Chief Executive Officer

A great assessment plan is the program director’s best marketing tool. Assessment may seem like just another responsibility of meeting NAACLS Standards, and that is true, but the savvy program director uses the assessment plan for so much more. The intended use of assessment is continuous quality improvement of the program but a great assessment plan also feeds directly into a successful marketing strategy for the program.

The 2012 NAACLS Standards require all programs to have a systematic assessment plan that measures the effectiveness of the program and uses the findings for continuous refinement of the program’s curriculum, education delivery methods, and other processes. Several quantitative outcome measures must be included in the assessment plan including certification/licensure pass rates, attrition, graduation, and pass rates. The use of other measures such as the results of capstone projects, faculty feedback, exit or final examinations, exit interviews with graduates, student and graduate professional leadership, impact of the program on local and regional healthcare, etc., are optional (Standard 2, I, a-c). Programs should align the assessment plan and outcomes measures used with the institutional and program missions. In other words, the assessment plan should be an ongoing process to document that programs are fulfilling their missions and that of the sponsoring institution and, if not, to make changes to the program consistent with achieving program and institutional missions.

NAACLS established benchmarks for several quantitative outcome measures including certification pass rates of ≥75% on BOC examinations, and graduate and placement rates of ≥70%. All of these are reported annually using a rolling 3-year average and, when that does not occur, further analyses of the program may be required (Standards Compliance Guide). But it is vitally important not to let these quantitative measures control the “story” of a program. A program, its students, and its faculty are so much more than the sum of its numbers. And as important and compelling as certification/licensure pass rates are to those of us in the field, is recitation of those statistics, no matter how wonderful a program’s graduates and pass rates are, really “sexy” to Chairs, Deans, Presidents, and CEOs? It’s doubtful. And that is how a great assessment program, linked to the institution and program missions, and open to innovation by program officials, connects with marketing.

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