National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment |

National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment

EIA Designation Overview

The Excellence in Assessment (EIA) designation recognizes exemplary colleges and universities that successfully integrate assessment practices across campus, provide evidence of student learning outcomes to stakeholders, and utilize assessment results to guide institutional decision-making and improve student performance. Institutions implementing and/or sustaining comprehensive use of assessment of institutional student learning outcomes are eligible to receive the designation.

The 2018 Excellence in Assessment (EIA) Application is now available.

The EIA designations focus on campus processes and use of assessment results, rather than on student performance or accomplishment. While student learning outcomes are an essential component of assessment processes, they are only one of many pieces necessary to facilitate institutional growth and improvement. The EIA designation evaluation process is directly linked to the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) Transparency Framework and builds on the foundation of student learning outcomes reporting within the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA). The Transparency Framework provides a structure to make evidence of student accomplishment accessible, useful, and meaningful to audiences both on and off campuses. Designees are awarded in two tiers.

Excellence Designees are institutions demonstrating strong leadership and commitment to a culture of evidence-based decision-making centered on the use of campus-level assessment results. Excellence campuses may, for example, have in place widespread program assessment but are integrating their use of student learning outcomes to inform campus decision-making. Alternatively, Excellence campuses may already have completed most of the steps of assessing student learning at the campus level, but are intentionally addressing gaps in the integration of their processes.

Sustained Excellence Designees are institutions who have maintained and/or evolved their integrated campus-level student learning outcomes assessment over a period of five (5) or more years. Sustained Excellence campuses have a solid foundation and track-record of integration of assessment data from across campus and of using assessment results to guide campus programs and curriculum.

Through the application process for the EIA designations, campuses will identify the strengths of the university’s campus-level assessment activities as well as areas for growth and improvement. Applications are evaluated by faculty and assessment experts on eight domains regarding campus-level assessment processes:

1. the diversity of groups and individuals engaged in assessment activities;
2. student learning outcomes statements;
3. assessment plans;
4. assessment resources;
5. current assessment activities;
6. evidence of student learning;
7. use of student learning outcomes results; and
8. growth and improvement plans.

Designees receive a commemorative plaque, along with a certificate and a logo that can be used by the institution to demonstrate their achievement and commitment to student learning outcomes assessment. Designations will be publicly announced in August following each application cycle. Designations will be awarded for a 5 year period, e.g., designations awarded in 2018 will last until 2023. Campuses that wish to maintain their designation past the end of the award period should plan to reapply in the last year of the award period, e.g., campuses receiving the designation in 2018 should plan to submit a re-application in spring 2023 to avoid any gap.

The Excellence in Assessment Designation is co-sponsored by the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA), the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). VSA is a joint initiative of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities (APLU).

"In keeping with AASCU’s Excellence and Innovation Awards, the EIA designations serve both as recognition and inspiration for institutions that are striving to provide the highest quality education to their students. Much like the Carnegie Community Engagement Classifications, the EIA designation program will identify campuses that are leading by example in integration of their learning outcomes assessment."

Muriel A. Howard
Former President, American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU)


"The Excellence in Assessment Designations will fill a gap in recognizing campuses that are actively applying best practices and create a platform for sharing and hopefully replicating the good work of those institutions."

M. Peter McPherson
President, Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities (APLU)