Essentially, the new DAACS assessment first measures academic and nonacademic skills to identify at-risk students. Then, it refers to students the appropriate resources needed for improvement and success so that they can best stay the course and pursue their desired outcomes right away. As a result, the data is anticipated to substantially increase the efficacy of Excelsior’s predictive models to help any struggling students, as well as create the opportunity for more in-depth advising.

The DAACS is completed entirely online, and students receive their results as soon as they complete each of the four main modules: college skills, math, reading and writing. The assessment can also be taken as many times as a student desires, and there are plans to add more videos and interactive components to the assessment over time.

Understanding the Emphasis on 4 Modules

College skills are basically self-report questions where users answer questions about themselves and their habits within a range of options from strongly agree to strongly disagree. By asking about academic self-regulation, motivation, self-efficacy, metacognition, GRIT and mindset, the data can be used to get a general feel for the learner and give them the help that is best suited to their strengths when needed, says the College.

Reading and mathematics are both multiple choice sections using questions from past New York state exams. These are free, low-stakes assessments that spend more time on feedback and helping students understand key concepts than on actual testing. This format also reduces any incentives for cheating, as the DAACS has no effect on placement and is not designed to be about passing or failing.

The writing section is graded automatically by a machine, though it can also be graded by a human reader as requested. This section is simply a starting point to get a feel for a student’s writing habits, which will then be addressed more in-depth with an expert or coach at their next advising meeting.

(Next page: How students interact with DAACS; plans for the future)

About the Author:

Ronald Bethke


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