by Aaron Voelcker
Many have asked whether SCC is going to continue using Taskstream as its Assessment Management System (AMS). This is a complicated question to answer and I hope that this update sheds some light on the complexity of the issue at hand.
A lot of discussion and activity has taken place over the past several years to determine whether Taskstream is best suited to help the college adjust its practices to meet ACCJC standard I.B.6, which requires institutions to disaggregate learning outcome data by student groups. After multiple failed attempts at reaching a cost effective solution with Taskstream, one that would, at a minimum, connect our AMS with the college's student information system, SCC decided to investigate alternatives.
In spring of 2016, the college decided to engage in the California Community College Chancellor's Office's (CCCCO) Institutional Effectiveness Partnership Initiative – Partnership Resource Team (IEPI PRT) opportunity, which provides technical assistance and seed money for self-identified institutional challenges. The college expanded the scope of the original issue and requested assistance in the identification of technology that can help manage the institution's integrated planning processes from the assessment and disaggregation of student learning outcome data through resource allocation and master planning efforts.
Currently, the college utilizes multiple tools to manage each component of the integrated planning process, making documentation and tracking cumbersome and inefficient. Ideally, the college would like to incorporate all of its planning and resource allocation documents and forms into a single tool. Our current implementation of Taskstream is not designed to be a comprehensive integrated planning solution, so embedding program review and resource allocation processes into the user interface would not serve the college well.
In the fall of 2016, the college received notification that it was approved to receive IEPI PRT assistance. The college then began to prepare for the Partnership resource team by approving, through the Academic Senate and College Council, the Technology for Institutional Effectiveness (TIE) Task Force. This task force's charge is to evaluate current assessment and planning processes, to identify critical features of a solution worthy of adopting, and to vet and recommend a commercial software solution that best fits the college's needs.
So, where are we now? The first Partnership Resource Team visited us on March 29, 2017, and met with the TIE Task Force to get a better and more detailed understanding of the challenge the college currently faces. After a second visit from the PRT on May 31, 2017, where the team assisted the college in putting together its application for seed funding to be submitted to the CCCCO, we are well on our way to finding a replacement for our current system.
In late October, a retreat will be held with members of the TIE Task Force and other college personnel to begin to carry out the task force's charge: evaluate current assessment and planning processes and identify critical features of a software solution worthy of adoption. With this information, a product evaluation rubric will be developed for use during the spring 2018 semester, when commercial vendors will be invited to demonstrate their wares.
By the end of spring 2018, SCC will have identified the best direction to move in and should have the appropriate funding from the CCCCO to implement the chosen solution and train faculty, staff, and administration on its use.
There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done, discussions to be held, software demonstrations to be evaluated, and decisions to be made, but I am confident that with the team of assessment and planning experts we have compiled to take this challenge head on, we will have a tool that helps us address accreditation standards and helps eliminate some of the redundancy in effort we all go through for outcomes assessment, department planning portfolio development, program review, resource request generation, and master plan development.
So, will we continue to use Taskstream as our AMS? The answer is maybe. With Taskstream's recent acquisition of TK20 and LiveText, both companies previously on our list of vendors to invite for spring 2018 demonstrations, the field of major competitors has been narrowed to three: Taskstream, Nuventive (TracDat) and eLumen.
If you have feedback, suggestions, or would like to share your experience, positive or negative, with any of the aforementioned products, please email me at email@example.com.
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