Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter, is about guilt, shame, and stigma associated with sin at a variety of levels. As crazy as it sounds, some academic leaders feel that the scarlet letter “A” in higher education is assessment, and they sense that it is attached to their personal identity or office. Usually these feelings are associated with an accreditation review. Another negative used to describe the one to whom is delegated the responsibility for assessment is “receiving the mark of Cain.” Why these negative perceptions? For some schools, it is because the institution has not established an assessment program that demonstrates excellence. For others, it may be that assessment is viewed as an activity to please accreditors rather than to guide the institution.
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