Planning, Assessment, and Resource Allocation Handbook
The purpose of this How-To and Reference Guide is to provide the campus community with the necessary framework to support continuous innovation and improvement through planning and assessment which aligns with resource allocation.
Our mission for planning and assessment is to develop and support an organized process for establishing, integrating and aligning priorities, goals, and objectives across the institution, and to support related planning and assessment activities on an ongoing basis.
Purchase College’s ongoing integrated planning and assessment is informed by the participation of all stakeholders in strategic initiatives that assures the continuous improvement of the institution, advances a culture of innovation and creativity, and guides the aspirations of the community.
This continual process consists of the following steps:
- Establishing priorities and goals designed to fulfill the mission and vision, while adhering to College values. (Where to you want to be? What do you want to achieve?)
- Identifying objectives and strategies to achieve goals, with desired performance levels, and metrics to measure achievement. (How are you going to get there?)
- Allocating appropriate resources to support objectives and strategies. (What will it cost?)
- Collecting meaningful data to assess the actual performance levels. (How will we know?)
- Analyzing the data (What does it mean?)
- Determine success of strategies and tactics and extent to which objectives were met. (How did we do?)
For the process to be continual, however, it cannot be linear. Institutional effectiveness (planning and assessment) is not an end. Rather, the results of the assessing are used to modify objectives, adjust allocation of resources, and continue to enhance the quality of our programs and services. So, the series of linear boxes becomes a closed and circular loop.
After data is analyzed to determine the success of strategies and extent to which objectives were met, it must be shared and used to inform adjustments to goals and objectives, strategies and objectives, and resource allocation. Thus, the process becomes continuous and leads to continual and consistent innovation and improvement.
A non-negotiable and foundational component for a sustained culture of planning and assessment is participation from the entire Purchase College community. A strong infrastructure which supports and encourages cyclical, integrated planning and assessment is the first step. Best practices for strategic planning and assessment are very clear and consistent; good planning requires broad collaboration and participation. Such involvement provides stakeholders with an opportunity to contribute information, to understand the process and its importance, and to realize what they do matters.
The infrastructure outlined in this document provides the tools for broad participation to support integrated planning for improvement, and reaccreditation. It includes templates for planning, assessment, and annual reporting. The college is in the process of procuring an Assessment Management System which will enable and support the collection, management and reporting of data related to student learning outcomes and strategic planning assessment. Until that system is in place, we have developed a SharePoint site on the Purchase College Collaboration Center. Appendix 12 describes a SharePoint site which will enables all assessment related documents to exist in one location.
In addition, all units across the campus should identify roles and responsibilities within the unit relative to planning and assessment. Where possible, Unit Heads should consider formalizing such responsibilities in PPEVs. This will ensure that planning and assessment related tasks are assigned to different staff.
Strategic planning is a means of establishing major directions for the institution into the future. Through strategic planning, resources are allocated to support achievement of key institutional goals. Strategic planning provides the basis for all other planning. It is intended to convey to all stakeholders the directions of the institution, and broad strategies for getting there.
- are in harmony with and clarify the vision and processes.
- tend to remain essentially unchanged until there is a shift in the environment in which they were created or the desired outcome has been achieved.
- encompass a relatively long period. If a goal can be accomplished in fewer than three years, it may be an objective.
- address the gaps between the current and the desired level of service. Goals are challenging, but realistic and achievable.
Operational planning is planning that takes place at the Unit level of an organization and encompasses the day-to-day implementation of strategic goals and directions. While strategic planning includes goals and strategies with longer-term implications, operational planning usually has immediate (less than one year) or incremental (year 1, year 2, etc.) implications. Operational planning assumes much more detailed planning regarding what, when and by whom activities will be accomplished.
Planning the tactics involve the policies and procedures necessary for effective management, planning, budgeting, and assessing.
Timelines for planning and assessment vary by level of plan, and could be modified in response to specific circumstances of individual Units (i.e. if the Unit is undergoing a significant change/restructure, or is subject to an external review). To prevent discontinuity of effort, however, plans should ensure that at least some assessment activity occurs annually on a calendar year cycle.
As a general rule, institution strategic plans are 5 years, college plans are three to five years, sector strategic plans are 3 years and unit assessment plans are on a one year cycle. Some campus plans might vary to comply with external structures. For example, the Campus Capital Facilities Master Plan is a 10-year plan.
The timeline below reflects the process for planning, assessment, and allocation of resources at Sector and Unit levels. Note: This timeline does not include the affiliate budget process.
March - April
- Business Office sends special revenue fund call letters (IFR, DIFR, SUTRA) to account managers.
- Business Office sends Officers anticipated allocations for their sectors for the upcoming year based on previous year’s activities.
May – June
Unit Heads confer with staff and hold planning session to
- Review previous year’s Unit Assessment Plan. Analyze data from the past academic year to determine the extent to which metrics for success were met. This analysis, foundational to the Annual Report, will also inform the upcoming Unit Assessment Plan.
- Frame the Annual Report based on the above analysis.
- Plan for the upcoming academic year to establish short- and long-term goals / objectives and develop a resource plan, if necessary.
- IFR budget review – account managers complete IFR worksheet based on projected needs for the upcoming year, and submit to the Business.
- Business Office reviews and approves.
June – July
- Write Unit Assessment Annual Report (Closing the Loop Report) and present to staff at Unit meeting.
- Annual Unit Assessment Annual Report due to area VP by July 15th.
- Cabinet confirms upcoming year budget for each Sector.
July - August
- Area VP approves Unit Assessment Plan which is submitted to the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment for review against assessment rubric.
- Unit Head submits to the Office of IRPA for review against assessment rubric.
- Once approved, the Director of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment will post to XX.
- Form 1 Budget submitted to SUNY System Administration
September - May
- Execute the strategies and objectives of the plan.
- Continuously collect data, periodically review and share with staff.
- Conduct a mid-year assessment review in January to ensure that assessment is on-going and formative.
The main purpose of a planning document is to create a living document which integrates critical planning with mechanisms to measure success, and to ensure appropriate resource allocation. Putting the plan in writing serves two main functions. It provides you and your staff with a comprehensive tool that can be used to identify and make changes for continued improvement. In addition, it serves as evidence of data supported decision-making to ensure continuous improvement for external audiences such as SUNY and MSCHE.
Systematic inquiry can provide the evidence necessary for Units to identify vital actions that lead to their success as it relates to the mission, goals, and objectives of the college. This allows Units to prioritize effectively and make programmatic and budgetary decisions that improve their efficiency. This systematic inquiry is also known as assessment.
Assessment requires that we continually measure our own effectiveness and progress towards our shared student-centered mission. Your Unit Assessment Plan is an ongoing living document. It should be clear and meaningful, and align with other planning across the college, including other Unit Plans, Sector Plans, College-wide plans, and of course the institution Strategic Plan. The process of creating a plan is one of self-examination. It is this process that that establishes data-informed decisions regarding our own strengths and weaknesses. Assessment gives us the ability to make programmatic and budgetary adjustments based on results from the activities the Unit has chosen to undertake.
The initial step in developing an assessment plan is to establish clearly articulated goals and objectives. This is critical to every subsequent phase of the assessment process as it enables participants to gather relevant information, to interpret that information appropriately, and to enact meaningful improvements. Making those improvements, or “closing the loop,” is what signifies an effective assessment process.
The mission statement for your Unit or Sector should be different from the broad and aspirational statement in a college-wide Strategic Plan. This is intended to be succinct (one paragraph) identifying the primary purpose of your Unit (what you do and how you do it). It should include how your Unit fits in the larger mission of the institution, identify your primary outcomes and/or products, and delineate who they impact (who do you serve?).
A goal is a broad, general statement of intended outcomes or results. The goals of a Sector Plan should support the achievement of goals and strategies of the Purchase College Strategic Plan. The goals of a Unit Assessment Plan should support the achievement of both Sector and Institutional goals.
Objectives are the concrete, measurable tasks that need to be accomplished to achieve a specific goal. Objectives form the operational plans which encompass the day-to-day implementation of strategic goals and directions. SMART objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. Objectives should contain the details of its own completion.
Examples of an objective include procedural modifications, programmatic changes or implementations, staff development and/or restructuring, etc. It is sometimes important to be able to measure the outcome of various objectives to determine which are most impactful in achieving the related goal.
When appropriate Student Learning Outcomes should be included as part of the overall objective being assessed. It may not be appropriate for all Units to have Student Learning Outcomes included in Unit Assessment plan.
A strategy is the approach taken to achieve a goal or objective, consistent with the Sector or Unit mission. It is important that strategies be specific enough to reflect the Sector or Unit’s primary functions and purpose, while broad enough to demonstrate their relevance to the goals and aspirations outlined in the college Strategic Plan.
Measures / Metrics
This component addresses the design or selection of assessment tools that are most appropriate for the stated objectives or strategy. The selection/design of the instrument(s) is the responsibility of the staff involved in the service delivery. You could identify valid assessment measures by looking at what is presently being used in the field and what appropriate external sources (i.e., Professional Associations, Accrediting Boards) have utilized as benchmarks and assessment tools. Because of inherent inadequacies in assessment approaches, multiple measures are strongly advised. Criteria for determining the acceptable levels of performance should be specified (e.g., response time for XYZ will decrease 10 percent, student involvement in XYZ will increase 15 percent).
By Whom and When?
This identifies the staff member or members responsible for the data collection and analysis of a particular goal, and the timeline for this to occur.
This component provides an important link with resource allocation. For each goal and objective, identify all resources required for success. This could include staff time, physical space needs, equipment needs, technology needs or fiscal needs. Identify if the resources needed to achieve the goal or objective can be obtained by a reallocation of the Unit’s existing budget; that is, identify the existing source of the resource. If new resources are needed, refer to the campus budget allocation process.
Unit Annual Report
This may be the most important piece of planning, assessment, and resource allocation because it begins the process of “closing the loop.” Utilizing analyzed data to make programmatic and budgetary decisions, and then analyzing their impact and adjusting accordingly is the essence of “the loop”. The Unit Annual Report documents how we are doing this in a systematic and continuous manner.
A Unit Annual Report summarizes extent to which the Unit Assessment Plan’s goals and priorities were achieved, as well as the assessment results of the strategies and objectives designed to achieve those goals. That summary will lead to meaningful recommendations or conclusions. Individual unit reports can review summary outcome assessment analyses of results and share ways in which those results have been used to bring about improvements. The final component of this report is the identification of areas of strength as well as those in need of improvement, with recommendations for future goals, strategies and objectives.
The report should also provide the important linkage of goals, assessments, and improvement strategies to resource planning and allocation.
Use of Results for Continuous Improvement
The Annual Report becomes the foundation for the next year Plan. The assessment results document the extent to which the previous years’ goals and objectives were achieved, and inform the next year’s plan. The results are used to continue unit/Unit improvement, make any necessary changes in processes, and adjust resource allocation as/if necessary, etc.
It is critical for the establishment of a culture of effective planning and assessment at Purchase College that all programs and Units have both annual assessment plans AND annual reports. Unit Assessment Plans are foundational to the essential functioning of the unit, and guide strategies and decisions through the routine and systematic collection, analysis, and use of assessment results to improve student learning and service delivery, as well as informing programmatic and budgetary decisions. It is equally as important that Units complete Annual Reports to determine the extent to which goals were met, and to inform the next years’ plan. (see Sample Annual Reports, Appendix 8 and Appendix 9).