33+ SAMPLE Program Assessment Plan

What is a Program Assessment Plan?

A program assessment plan is a research tool and well-coordinated map to guide program managers, faculty managers, and program coordinators in assessing a specific program at multiple levels. It is generally used for the successful development of a specific program like an academic program, a nursing program, an educational program, a continuous learning program, and others. Program managers and evaluators use this plan to know the important qualitative differences in how they are implemented at multiple levels.

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published a statistical report about the most popular academic majors and the largest percentages of bachelor’s degree programs in 2019-2020 are business management (19%) and health programs (13%). They made some quantitative assessments of the academic programs offered in postsecondary institutions at Columbia. Thus, all kinds of business department managers, program managers, project supervisors, nursing program managers, music program managers, TV/entertainment program managers, and other educational program managers should effectively create a compelling and cohesive program assessment plan to determine the effectiveness and the key improvements of the programs.

Different Types of Program Assessment Plans

There are different types of program assessment plans that many program managers in various businesses, institutions, organizations, and industries use. These plans define the mission and the outcomes the students or the participants are anticipated to show. Additionally, they explain how the program managers or the faculty assess the achievement of the student or participant based on the expected learning outcomes of the program.

1. Academic Program Assessment Plan

This type of program assessment plan is an academic action plan generally used for  evaluating academic programs. Program managers in academic institutions usually collect and analyze program-related materials such as academic program catalogs, current assessment plans, program goals, discipline-specific standards, and previous assessment data reports. They work with the faculty to assess the mission and scope of the program plan by developing measurable program-level student learning outcomes for each goal, identifying and listing benchmarks, and establishing timelines for the development of a logical assessment cycle.

2. Program Level Assessment Plan

A program-level assessment plan is a roadmap for assessing the quality level of a specific program. It is used by educational program managers to evaluate the effectiveness of their course and program designs and to analyze student performance in the program. The expected learning outcomes of the program are defined by the faculty assigned to deliver the program and paired with the indicators or measures chosen by the faculty to assess whether the program is effective in helping students to attain those learning goals and objectives.

3. Annual Program Assessment Plan

An annual program assessment plan is designed to initiate the program assessment of at least one learning outcome per academic year. Educational program managers and faculty members create annual program assessment plans to have an agreement on which components of their programs will be assessed and to designate major responsibilities and set timelines. These annual assessment plans are submitted to the committee which makes in-depth reviews and discussions to give valuable feedback to the dean and the faculty of the program.

4. College Program Assessment Plan

A college program assessment plan is a comprehensive assessment planning tool for college development plan used by the college faculty and instructors to know how a specific college program is assessed. They are able to clearly identify and understand what is being measured, when will the program be assessed, who will gather the data and how the assessment results will be used. This assessment plan includes an assessment of student learning, placement or the assessment of the faculty of the student’s knowledge level, assessment of institutional effectiveness, and quality control. 

5. Program Assessment and Continuous Improvement Plan

Developing a compelling program assessment and continuous improvement plan is important for the faculty and staff in order to determine the level of acceptable performance and to monitor the program assessment. It helps them to offer necessary changes to the program based on the assessment results. The coordinator of the program assessment collaborates with the department chair to carry out continuous improvement actions.

Benefits of a Program Assessment Plan

A program assessment plan is a crucial tool to study a specific program and gain a clear understanding of how well that program reaches its main goals and objectives. It allows program managers to enhance the quality of their educational programs as they put their best efforts into improving student learning outcomes. We outline the major benefits of a program assessment plan below.

1. Identifies “What Works” and “What Does Not Work.”

Program managers use an assessment plan to know “what works” and “what does not work” so that they can focus on the key components of the program that will surely benefit the participants and improve and strengthen how they deliver their services. They can easily identify the strategies that work, detect the necessary skills and training that the staff needs to have in order to deliver the program services appropriately and see if the participants are satisfied with the program. Also, a program assessment plan is important because it prevents program managers from wasting valuable time and resources.

2. Demonstrates Program Effectiveness

A well-coordinated program assessment plan is an essential plan for program managers to demonstrate that a program is effective and worthwhile to the students, the funders, and/or the community. Sharing the finding of the program assessment within the community is a great way to attract collaborative partners, participants, and volunteers and to build trust with families and others. Funders also require comprehensive assessments so that they can fully decide if they will not fund or re-fund the programs.

3. Improves the Overall Performance and Services of the Staff

It can improve the overall performance of the staff when it comes to delivering their services to the students, youth, and families in the community. A program manager can systematically assess the performance of the staff and figure out where the staff members are excelling and where they may need more improvement or training. Creating the program assessment plan provides the staff with opportunities to discuss their challenges and other issues they face and suggest possible solutions.

4. Builds the Capacity of the Organization to Conduct Future Self-Assessments and Plans

Conducting a program assessment will significantly build the capacity of the organization to make crucial self-assessments, annual self evaluations and plans in the near future such as assessments for staff and program needs, measurement of staff performance, and many others. Thus, a program assessment plan is a fundamental tool to strengthen the operations of a program and to allow ongoing reflection and continuous improvement in learning.

Basic Components of a Program Assessment Plan 

Know how to construct a well-written and systematic program assessment plan. What are the different kinds of components of a program assessment plan? Include the following elements for you to create a professional piece of writing:

Mission and Vision: Define the mission and vision of your program assessment plan. Write a brief statement as you tell your readers the major goals of the assessment. For example, the program assessment plan focuses on providing support for the improvement of business management and visual arts programs at the university, college, department, and program level.  Program Student Learning Outcomes: Explain the student learning outcomes that your program assessment team expects in an academic program. Some examples of student learning outcomes or SLOs are cognitive knowledge related to discipline, physical and intellectual skills, and certain attitudes and behaviors linked to a discipline.Program Assessment Planning Calendar: Create a realistic calendar for your program assessment plan. Build an assessment calendar to organize the schedules of the program assessments and help the students organize their academic schedules. It helps the staff to make a comparison on the assessment dates and make sure that various program assessments are implemented.  Program Assessment Measures: State the measures you will use for the program assessment. Some examples of program assessment measures are course-embedded assessments, public performances, internship evaluations, and behavioral observations. Curriculum Map: Construct a simple curriculum map to display where curriculum student learning outcomes are taught and evaluated. It is used to make sure that there exists an alignment between the anticipated learning outcomes and what is taught in an educational curriculum.  Data Collection and Comprehensive Analysis: Set some clear guidelines for fundamental rubrics and responsibilities for the program assessment work. List down the methods to be used for data collection and comprehensive analysis of the results of the program assessment.  Program Assessment Plan Description: Write a simple description of the students, individuals, and/or participants of the program. Describe the people involved in the program assessment including the program evaluators, program coordinators, and faculty members. Program Assessment Plan Review Cycle: Indicate the review cycle of the program assessment. The four stages of a program assessment cycle are writing the outcomes, teaching, and learning, evaluating student work, and revising and reinforcing.

How to Write a Program Assessment Plan

Whether you are an academic program manager, a business management program manager, an environmental program manager, or a community program coordinator, it is integral to be informed about the layout or structure of a comprehensive program assessment plan. Follow the tips indicated in this section on how to write a clear and systematic program assessment plan.

1. Identify the Mission and Vision of the Program

What is the program to be assessed? What are the specific goals, objectives, mission and vision of the program? Write a brief mission and vision statement of the program. Include 2-6 goals in your statement. For example, consider this question: What will students in this specific program know and be able to do after their graduation?

2. Describe the Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

After defining your mission and vision statement and your goals and objectives, describe the learning outcomes of the program. For example, think carefully about how the students be able to represent the goals. Take note that the SLOs will not always change and use on verbs to describe what the students should be able to do. Add 3-8 specific or measurable SLOs.

3. Include the Learning Opportunities

What activities, course, projects and tasks will the students work on in order to reach the SLOs? Develop a curriculum map in an academic department or committee meeting as you work with workshop presentation reference materials. This map is an essential method to align instruction with preferred learning goals and program outcomes to improve communication among faculty, enhance the coherence of the program, increase the possibility of students reaching program-level outcomes and facilitate reflective practice.

4. Set Timeline to Guide People

Which student learning outcome will be tackled first? When will each SLO be evaluated? Who among the faculty members are responsible for leading the program assessment of each SLO? Consider these questions when you set a clear timeline to guide people for each program assessment activity. You need to assess SLOs that have available data on your department.

5. Proofread and Finalize the Program Assessment Plan

Check your overall program assessment plan and ensure that you fully include all the key points in your plan. Go through the important details of the evaluation of the program managers or coordinators involved in the program assessment plan. If there are some sections that need correction or additional details, edit and revise the document using various editing and proofreading tools available online.


How to conduct an assessment of student learning?

When you are conducting an assessment of student learning, you need to define the learning outcomes, choose the proper assessment measurements, assess the learning outcomes, examine the results of the assessed learning outcomes, and make some necessary adjustments or improvements to the programs based on the results of the assessed learning outcomes.

What are the fundamental principles of a program assessment for student learning?

The fundamental principles of a program assessment for student learning are a program assessment starts with the educational values, it shows that learning is multidimensional, performance-based, and well-integrated, it seeks clarity and improvement, it aims at learning outcomes and experiences, it works well when it is ongoing, it facilitates further improvement when representatives from other educational institutions participated, it leads to continuous development, and it enables educators to fulfill their responsibilities to students.

What are some examples of program assessment plans?

Some examples of program assessment plans are academic program assessment plans, program level assessment plans, annual program assessment plans, college program assessment plans, department program assessment plans, program assessment continuous improvement plans, education program assessment plans, management technology program assessment plans, five-year program assessment plans,  undergraduate program assessment plans, and many more.

What are the main purposes of program assessments?

The main purposes of program assessments are to assess programs for accountability, certification, and progress and facilitate effective student learning, and support quality education.

Developing a clear and comprehensive program assessment plan is a crucial method to assess a specific program plan or design and provide the fundamental tools and measures to make the assessment happen in an organized manner. Plus, we provide program assessment plan samples such as academic program assessment plans, program level assessment plans, annual program assessment plans, department program assessment plans, and other program assessment action plan templates that you can easily and quickly download for your assessment work.