The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA+)

About the CLA+

The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA+), developed by the Council for Aid to Education (CAE), provides direct evidence of the impact of college on students’ ability to think critically, interpret and apply data appropriately, and write effectively. Students complete a Performance Task, in which they use evidence from a library of hypothetical documents to develop a solution to a problem scenario, and 25 selected response questions, which assess scientific and quantitative reasoning, critical reading and evaluation, and the ability to critique an argument.

The CLA+ Performance Task essays are scored by the CAE using criteria similar to those used by faculty in evaluating student writing assignments. These results have been used to review the college’s general education requirements, to secure grant funding for improving curriculum and pedagogy, to inform the development of the college’s strategic plan, and to assist in the development and evaluation of the college’s Quality Improvement initiative for HLC re-accreditation in 2012-2013.

CLA+ results and reports

The most recent complete administration of the Collegiate Learning Assessment occurred during the 2018-19 academic year, with 134 incoming first-years participating in Fall 2018 and 52 graduating seniors participating in Spring 2019.

CLA+ results show consistently that St. Olaf students demonstrate strong writing and critical thinking skills throughout their college experience; that these skills improve steadily from their initial entry at St. Olaf through their graduation; and that the amount of improvement is commensurate with their abilities as incoming first-years and with the selective nature of the College. They also show how the proficiency of St. Olaf students compares to those of their peers at other institutions. 

Recent results and reports

Incoming First-Year Results – Fall 2018
This institutional report prepared by the CAE contains summary and analysis of CLA+ scores for a randomly-selected sample of incoming St. Olaf first-years in Fall 2018, including percentile rankings compared to other institutions that administered the CLA+ to their incoming first-years during the same time period. The report also includes mean CLA+ scores for the First-Year cohort, comparisons with means scores for other CLA+ institutions, and detailed descriptions of CLA+ tasks, scoring procedures, and statistical methodology.

Senior Results – Spring 2019
This institutional report prepared by the CAE contains summary and analysis of CLA+ scores for a sample of St. Olaf seniors in 2019 who completed the CLA+ as first-years, including percentile rankings compared to other institutions that administered the CLA+ to their seniors during the same time period. The report also includes mean CLA+ scores for both St. Olaf cohorts, comparisons with mean scores for other CLA+ institutions, and detailed descriptions of CLA+ tasks, scoring procedures, and statistical methodology.

Topical reports that include CLA data