Western Michigan University made the decision in 2007 to become a member of the Voluntary System of Accountability. The VSA is an attempt to make critical information about participating institutions transparent to prospective students and their parents. One requirement of participation in the VSA is that each institution evaluate student learning by using the Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency (CAAP) exam, the Measure of Academic Proficiency and Progress (MAPP) exam, or the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) exam. A WMU faculty committee decided in 2008 to use the CLA exam.
The CLA exam is a product of the Council for Aid to Education and is designed to measure the value added to a student’s education by an institution. The exam is given online and consists of written responses to various performance tasks. The tasks are designed to measure the student’s critical thinking, analytical reasoning, problem solving and written communication skills. There are no multiple choice questions associated with the exam. The value added is determined by comparing the scores of incoming freshmen with those of graduating seniors.