Certification and Assessment
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How are the ACJS Standards related to assessment?  How does one do assessment for certification?


Section H of the Standards provides information on what is expected to measure program quality and effectiveness. 


The following information gives examples of assessment activities and strategies for each of the four standards of this section.  Please keep in mind that these are just some possibilities to consider.  There are many other types of assessment that can be used as indicators to meet the standards.  As discussed elsewhere on the Assessment pages, there are many resources available to assist faculty in developing assessment strategies.


H.1 The program undergoes systematic evaluation of all program components and uses the results for program improvement.

  • Develop an assessment plan
  • Gather data based on the plan 
  • Complete regular reviews of the outcomes on a predetermined schedule (such as annual reports and third year reviews) 
  • Conduct self-studies per university guidelines 
  • Assessment Reports should reflect program improvement changes as a result of assessment outcomes
  • Assessment Reports should reflect changes made to the assessment plan
  • Changes to the program and to the assessment plan are necessary as data are analyzed for program improvement and new assessment protocols are developed

H.2 The program demonstrates that its graduates have acquired the knowledge and developed the skills that are identified as the program’s objectives and student learning outcomes.


Examples of direct measures of student learning outcomes:

  • Portfolios 
  • Competency/comprehensive exams 
  • Course-embedded pre/post testing 
  • Research Proposal 
  • Oral and Written Research/Report Presentations 
  • Current Events Journal 
  • Policy Analysis Papers

Examples of indirect measures:

  • Alumni Surveys 
  • Employer Surveys 
  • Senior Exit Surveys/Interviews

In determining which indicator(s) to use, it is important that the program take into consideration the following factors:

  • Use of multiple measures from multiple sources
  • Development of rubrics appropriate to the assignment (such as for essays, term papers, research papers, theses, capstone projects, current event journals, oral or visual presentations, etc.)
  • Assignments given and assessment methods used need to relate to course objectives which, in turn, should relate to program goals as given in the assessment plan

H.3 The program demonstrates that students completing courses in non-traditional time periods and modalities, in different divisions, and at satellite or branch campuses acquire levels of knowledge, understanding, and competencies comparable to those expected in similar programs offered in more traditional time periods, modalities and locations.

  • Use the same measures/strategies for assessing student learning outcomes in both the traditional and non-traditional modalities and compare the results
  • Document meetings between faculty at various campuses and programs
  • Share course syllabi and develop common course objectives/assignments
  • Develop common rubrics to be used by everyone
  • Use the same text for all sections of the same course

H.4 The institution periodically reviews the program under established, clearly defined institutional policies and uses the results to improve student learning and program effectiveness.  The review includes an assessment of effectiveness, currency, and continued need.


The university/college in which the program resides may be required to have a self-study reviewed by an external reviewer on a set time schedule, for example, once every five years.  Even without a university requirement, for purposes of quality improvement and strategic planning it is advisable to gather the data needed for a self-study report and have all faculty involved in the Program review the materials.  They can then jointly develop a strategic plan.


The following provides a list of what may be included in a self-study report:

  • History and context of the degree
  • Mission, Goals, and Objectives of the program
  • Information on students over a span of years including enrollment, characteristics, preparedness (e.g., SAT scores), part-time/full-time ratios, number of transfer students, financial needs of students
  • Information about faculty including full-time and part-time
  • Campus resources
  • Student services including advising, internship assistance, work-study availability, retention efforts, tutoring availability, and learning resource centers
  • Information about graduates including number of students employed in the field after graduation, number of graduates entering graduate programs, GPA of graduates, number of graduates by year, etc.

The self-study templates for ACJS Certification provide a comprehensive way to examine at program and are available on the home page for ACJS Certification.