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ACCOUNTABILITY: Students demonstrate the high value of a UNCP education


If anyone ever asks you “How much do students really learn in their four years at UNCP?” – now you’ve got an answer.  Students who took the national Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) examination have shown that, between the freshman and senior years, a whole lot of learning happens at UNCP.

Administered every three years, the 2010-11 version of the exam was taken by 159 of UNCP’s freshmen and seniors; students at 144 colleges and universities around the country took the same test.

Compared to peer institutions across the country, UNCP’s first-year students placed in the 28th percentile, but seniors ranked in the 44th percentile. These results indicate that the extent of learning that happens at UNCP between freshmen and senior years places the university in the 85th percentile out of 100 other colleges of similar size, student demographics and other measures.   The CLA examination, a higher education accountability project of the Council for Aid to Education (CAE), measures critical thinking, problem solving, analytical reasoning and writing skills of first-year students and also seniors. Students volunteer to take the test, which is demanding and requires 90 minutes to two hours to complete.

Although it is students who are tested on how much they have learned during college, the results are an evaluation of the institution’s performance—how well the university did its job of education those students. The scores “operate as a signaling tool of overall institutional performance on tasks that measure higher-order skills holistically,” explains the CAE.

UNCP’s performance, based on the student scores in the 2010-11 test, has improved from when the CLA was last given, in the 2007-08 academic year, said Dr. Beverly King, assistant vice chancellor for UNCP’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness.  

“UNCP performed exceptionally well overall and compared to our peer institutions,” Dr. King said. “The CLA is an important measure of our university’s effectiveness in the classroom.”

Dr. Kenneth Kitts, provost and vice chancellor for the Office of Academic Affairs, congratulated UNCP’s faculty.

“These results confirm what we know to be true about the quality of instruction at UNCP,” Dr. Kitts said.  “Our students benefit every day from contact with professors who are as caring as they are knowledgeable.”

The Council for Aid to Education (CAE) is a national nonprofit organization focused on improving quality and access in higher education. The Collegiate Learning Assessment and the Community College Learning Assessment are part of a national effort to assess the quality of higher education by directly measuring student learning outcomes.

For more information about CLA testing at UNCP, please contact the Office for Institutional Effectiveness at 910.775.4375.