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.

Prior administrations of this assessment were conducted with the CLA+ predecessor, the CLA, which administered an analytic writing task in place of the response questions. These CLA essays were scored by the CAE using criteria similar to those used by faculty in evaluating student writing assignments. These results have been used to review of the college’s general education requirements, to secure grant funding for improving curriculum and pedagogy, to inform the development of the college’s 2011 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 2015-16 academic year, with 183 incoming first-years participating in Fall 2015 and 102 graduating seniors participating in Spring 2016.

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 2015
Summary and analysis of CLA+ scores for a randomly-selected sample of incoming St. Olaf first-years in Fall 2015, including percentile rankings compared to other institutions that administered the CLA+ to their incoming first-years during the same time period. This institutional report prepared for St. Olaf by the Council for Aid to Education 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 2016
Summary and analysis of CLA+ scores for a randomly-selected sample of St. Olaf seniors in Spring 2016, including percentile rankings compared to other institutions that administered the CLA+ to their seniors during the same time period. The Institutional Report prepared for St. Olaf by the Council for Aid to Education 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.

Cumulative CLA results, Fall 2005 – Spring 2013
A summary of key findings from the CLA across nearly all administrations at St. Olaf since it was first administered to incoming first-years in Fall 2005 through Spring 2013.

Topical reports that include CLA data