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Assessing Ourselves: Confirming Assumptions and Improving Student Learning by Efficiently and Fearlessly Assessing Student Learning Outcomes


The American Bar Association (ABA) is considering new accreditation standards for law schools that would require the faculty at each law school to not only assess individual student performance, but also to assess themselves as legal educators to ensure they are meeting their institutions' goals of student learning. This type of assessment is a relatively new concept in legal education because the ABA's current accreditation standards, unlike those of other professional educational programs, are based on inputs, rather than evidence demonstrating actual student learning. The ABA's proposed accreditation standards would require a law school to identify institutional learning outcomes, offer a curriculum that affords each student the opportunity to achieve those learning outcomes, assess its students' achievement in those areas, and assess itself as an institution by measuring the effectiveness of its programs in preparing students to become entry-level legal practitioners. These proposed accreditation standards have stirred a debate among legal educators regarding the justification for assessment and a scramble to determine how to comply.