CLA+ Levels Playing Field

Once upon a time, universities gauged the value they provided to students by administering the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA). Now the creator, Council of Aid to Education (CAE), has designed a new standardized version, called CLA+, to wipe away grade inflation and give a true evaluation of a students' learning. This new test will specifically focus on students' critical-thinking skills, and nearly 200 universities will be taking part.

With competing ideas of whether college is there to help students learn or to prepare them for the working world, this test allows students to show a more tangible degree of knowledge and skill at graduation that serves both sides. Besides a degree, a student can now carry away a score that represents their knowledge level. It will also negate the weight a certain college name or location carries, and base the assessment instead on each test-taker’s skill level. It will no longer matter if you attended an Ivy League, state school, or online university. Your score could now represent more than just your alma mater.

For an online university or traditional campus, the CLA+ can improve how potential students and employers view their programs. As larger groups of students graduate, they will have a more accurate way to track what students are learning through the college experience. The university can then adjust and work to improve their overall offering. This fine-tuning could also help eliminate the questions of if a college is worth the tuition (if students score well) and if a specific degree is going to offer the right skills to help place a student in their desired career.

The $35 CLA+ test has already been beta-tested by 20 universities; but it is still far from proven on the larger scale. Will it work like the SATs did for high school students entering college? Will the results give true results that students, parents, and employers trust? Will it be accepted as the standard? I’m not sure yet, but the potential of the test is excellent. With CLA+, each student has the opportunity to choose the right university and degree while moving themselves one step ahead of other students after graduation.

Written by: Travis Taggart
Travis is a regular contributor to the Ashford University blog.

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