AUCC among PSE groups raising concerns over OECD's higher-ed learning outcomes assessment

September 20, 2012

Agitation about the potential use (and misuse) about OECD's Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes (AHELO) is rising in Canada, the US, and Europe. In a letter sent in July to the leader of OECD's higher education program, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, the American Council on Education, and the European University Association expressed their concerns about how OECD envisions the test being used -- and specifically that OECD "is attempting to create a transnational 'test' of learning outcomes, without clarity of purpose or consultation with institutions." OECD officials have cited many possible uses for AHELO -- helping universities better assess and improve their instruction, students make better choices about where they belong, policy-makers hold PSE institutions accountable, and employers gauge the skills of the graduates they hire. While some college leaders have welcomed the prospect of the release of institutional and national-level data that would make comparisons possible, those in many of the largest and most diverse nations dread the idea of introducing yet more data that might be used, in an oversimplified manner, to rate and rank nations with drastically different populations and approaches to PSE. "We hold strongly the view that it is possible to measure outcomes and enhance quality without promoting standardization of educational programs and homogenization of institutional missions," the letter writers state. "We hope that the OECD joins us in this view." Inside Higher Ed