34 CFR § 668.10 - Direct assessment programs.
(1) A direct assessment program is an instructional program that, in lieu of credit hours or clock hours as a measure of student learning, utilizes direct assessment of student learning, or recognizes the direct assessment of student learning by others. The assessment must be consistent with the accreditation of the institution or program utilizing the results of the assessment.
(2) Direct assessment of student learning means a measure by the institution of what a student knows and can do in terms of the body of knowledge making up the educational program. These measures provide evidence that a student has command of a specific subject, content area, or skill or that the student demonstrates a specific quality such as creativity, analysis or synthesis associated with the subject matter of the program. Examples of direct measures include projects, papers, examinations, presentations, performances, and portfolios.
(3) All regulatory requirements in this chapter that refer to credit or clock hours as a measurement apply to direct assessment programs. Because a direct assessment program does not utilize credit or clock hours as a measure of student learning, an institution must establish a methodology to reasonably equate the direct assessment program (or the direct assessment portion of any program, as applicable) to credit or clock hours for the purpose of complying with applicable regulatory requirements. The institution must provide a factual basis satisfactory to the Secretary for its claim that the program or portion of the program is equivalent to a specific number of credit or clock hours.
(i) An academic year in a direct assessment program is a period of instructional time that consists of a minimum of 30 weeks of instructional time during which, for an undergraduate educational program, a full-time student is expected to complete the equivalent of at least 24 semester or trimester credit hours, 36 quarter credit hours or 900 clock hours.
(ii) A payment period in a direct assessment program for which equivalence in credit hours has been established must be determined under the requirements in § 668.4(a), (b), or (c), as applicable, using the academic year determined in accordance with paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section (or the portion of that academic year comprising or remaining in the program). A payment period in a direct assessment program for which equivalence in clock hours has been established must be determined under the requirements in § 668.4(c), using the academic year determined in accordance with paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section (or the portion of that academic year comprising or remaining in the program).
(iii) A week of instructional time in a direct assessment program is any seven-day period in which at least one day of educational activity occurs. Educational activity in a direct assessment program includes regularly scheduled learning sessions, faculty-guided independent study, consultations with a faculty mentor, development of an academic action plan addressed to the competencies identified by the institution, or, in combination with any of the foregoing, assessments. It does not include credit for life experience. For purposes of direct assessment programs, independent study occurs when a student follows a course of study with predefined objectives but works with a faculty member to decide how the student is going to meet those objectives. The student and faculty member agree on what the student will do (e.g., required readings, research, and work products), how the student's work will be evaluated, and on what the relative timeframe for completion of the work will be. The student must interact with the faculty member on a regular and substantive basis to assure progress within the course or program.
(iv) A full-time student in a direct assessment program is an enrolled student who is carrying a full-time academic workload as determined by the institution under a standard applicable to all students enrolled in the program. However, for an undergraduate student, the institution's minimum standard must equal or exceed the minimum full-time requirements specified in the definition of full-time student in § 668.2 based on the credit or clock hour equivalency established by the institution for the direct assessment program.
(b) An institution that offers a direct assessment program must apply to the Secretary to have that program determined to be an eligible program for title IV, HEA program purposes. The institution's application must provide information satisfactory to the Secretary that includes -
(1) A description of the educational program, including the educational credential offered (degree level or certificate) and the field of study;
(2) A description of how the assessment of student learning is done;
(3) A description of how the direct assessment program is structured, including information about how and when the institution determines on an individual basis what each student enrolled in the program needs to learn;
(4) A description of how the institution assists students in gaining the knowledge needed to pass the assessments;
(5) The number of semester or quarter credit hours, or clock hours, that are equivalent to the amount of student learning being directly assessed for the certificate or degree, as required by paragraph (b)(3) of this section;
(6) The methodology the institution uses to determine the number of credit or clock hours to which the program is equivalent;
(7) The methodology the institution uses to determine the number of credit or clock hours to which the portion of a program an individual student will need to complete is equivalent;
(8) Documentation from the institution's accrediting agency indicating that the agency has evaluated the institution's offering of direct assessment program(s) and has included the program(s) in the institution's grant of accreditation;
(9) Documentation from the accrediting agency or relevant state licensing body indicating agreement with the institution's claim of the direct assessment program's equivalence in terms of credit or clock hours; and
(10) Any other information the Secretary may require to determine whether to approve the institution's application.
(c) To be an eligible program, a direct assessment program must meet the requirements in § 668.8 including, if applicable, minimum program length and qualitative factors.
(d) Notwithstanding paragraphs (a) through (c) of this section, no program offered by a foreign institution that involves direct assessment will be considered to be an eligible program under § 668.8.
(e) A direct assessment program may use learning resources (e.g., courses or portions of courses) that are provided by entities other than the institution providing the direct assessment program without regard to the limitations on contracting for part of an educational program in § 668.5(c)(3).
(f) Title IV, HEA program funds may be used only for learning that results from instruction provided, or overseen, by the institution, not for the portion of the program that the student has demonstrated mastery of prior to enrollment in the program or tests of learning that are not associated with educational activities overseen by the institution.
(g) Title IV, HEA program eligibility with respect to direct assessment programs is limited to direct assessment programs approved by the Secretary. Title IV, HEA program funds may not be used for -
(1) the course of study described in § 668.32(a)(1)(ii) and (iii) if offered by direct assessment, or
(2) remedial coursework described in § 668.20 offered by direct assessment. However, remedial instruction that is offered in credit or clock hours in conjunction with a direct assessment program is eligible for title IV, HEA program funds.
(h) The Secretary's approval of a direct assessment program expires on the date that the institution changes one or more aspects of the program described in the institution's application submitted under paragraph (b) of this section. To maintain program eligibility, the institution must obtain prior approval from the Secretary through reapplication under paragraph (b) of this section that sets forth the revisions proposed.