Developing and Sustaining Outcomes Assessment in English as a Foreign Language Programs
Educational organizations are charged with one critical task: effectively and efficiently ensuring student learning. Traditionally, the determining factor for whether educational institutions had imparted knowledge on their students was simply to count the number of graduates. English as a Foreign Language (EFL) programs have followed this tradition, equating quality with numbers of successful program completers. Over the past two decades, the so-called accountability movement has put increasing pressure on schools to demonstrate quality by evidencing student learning through the assessment of learning outcomes. EFL programs are increasingly being asked to develop and implement learning outcomes assessment programs. To do so, however, can be arduous, and, if not approached thoughtfully, can lead to failure. This chapter explores the principles and practices that are generally believed to be must-haves for successful outcomes assessment programs. This is followed by a discussion of common pitfalls that lead to failure of such initiatives. Finally, the chapter proposes that EFL program leaders who are embarking upon an outcomes assessment process consider the Distributed Leadership model as a means for increasing the probability of success and sustainability of their outcomes assessment initiative.