Measuring Student Learning

Higher education data typically focuses on inputs—incoming students’ SAT scores, the cost of tuition, and the ratio of professors to students. Learn more about our Measuring Student Learning work.

Higher education data typically focuses on inputs—incoming students’ SAT scores, the cost of tuition, and the ratio of professors to students. What outcomes measures we do have tell us only if students graduated or defaulted on their federal student loans. But none of this information tells us anything about what students actually learned. Relying on grades and syllabi aren’t enough either, because there is no way to know what was actually taught or if the grading was fair and consistent. And the colleges that do measure learning, through exams such as the Collegiate Learning Assessment, often keep their results private.

We work to identify and promote effective methods of measuring success in teaching, learning, and attainment. We also champion transparency and accessibility of information about these topics, and we support those working to bring new information about higher education to light. Knowing what students actually learn is a crucial gauge of an education’s quality and an important factor for students when choosing schools and for employers when hiring graduates.