How to Use CAAP

Getting Started

As a first step, review the CAAP Planning Workbook (PDF; 13 pages, 71KB). This workbook provides a list of questions that need to be answered and agreed upon by all faculty, administrators, and institutional researchers involved with general education outcomes assessment. The second section includes detailed descriptions of the content of the six CAAP test modules, allowing you to map the tests to your general education core requirements and determine which test modules would be most appropriate for your institution.

Using CAAP for General Education Program Evaluation

CAAP results can be used on a group basis to help institutions improve instructional programs by measuring student progress in the acquisition of core academic skills. Institutions concerned with program evaluation use CAAP to provide evidence that general education objectives are being met, to document change in students' performance levels from one educational point to another, and to compare performance gains across general education instructional programs within an institution.

  • CAAP as an Outcomes Measurement
    Institutions can use their CAAP results as a straightforward measurement of students' attainment of their general education core skills and learning. This is usually done by assessing students at the end of their sophomore year or the beginning of their junior year. A key consideration is that the tested students have actually completed their general education core coursework. Institutions should use this information to establish standards of performance (for example, percent of students scoring at or above a certain score). Institutions are also encouraged to establish benchmarks, implement improvements to their programs, and monitor change in student performance over time. Institutions can make these determinations using either their institutional (local) norms or by comparing their institution's results to the national user norms. The CAAP Content Analysis Reports can help institutions focus on specific opportunities for improvement.
  • CAAP as a Measurement of Value-Added Performance Gain
Longitudinal (CAAP to CAAP): This design involves the administration of CAAP to incoming students and then again to the same students, usually at the end of the sophomore, junior, or senior year. By looking at the differences between the CAAP mean scores of both groups, institutions can infer value-added performance gain.
Longitudinal (CAAP to ACT or COMPASS): Under this design, CAAP is administered to students upon completion of the general education core, usually at the end of their sophomore year or beginning of their junior year. ACT can then link their CAAP results back to their results on the ACT or COMPASS® to indicate the level of change on a group basis. A key consideration is that the same student identifier is used so that student records can be matched. More information on CAAP Linkage Reports
Cross-sectional: This design enables an institution to obtain an initial reading on program outcomes. Incoming freshmen are tested at the beginning of the fall term, and a similar group of sophomores/juniors/seniors is tested at the end of the spring term in the same academic year. The effectiveness of a program may then be inferred from the differences between the two mean group scores. The challenge of this design is matching student characteristics across groups.

Using CAAP for Individual Student Evaluation

By evaluating a student's individual score report against national and/or local norms, CAAP can be used to indicate student readiness for further education, identify interventions needed for subsequent student success, and ensure some specified level of skill mastery prior to graduation or program completion. When reviewing any standardized outcomes test, please note that no test can assess the universe of learning. Before selecting a test, be sure it measures key outcomes that are being taught in your curriculum.