Institutional Effectiveness

Skip to content Skip to main navigation
Teachers College, Columbia University
Printer-friendly Version
Teachers College, Columbia University Logo

Office of Accreditation and Assessment

Institutional Effectiveness

Assessment is a process of documenting, usually in measurable terms, the outcomes or impacts of programs or activities, usually against agreed-upon goals or objectives. Assessment is not an end in itself. Its value is in providing a foundation for further planning and decision making. 

Teachers College is an urban, independent, graduate and professional school of education founded in 1887 and, since 1898, affiliated with Columbia University under an agreement whereby the College retained its legal and financial independence. Under this agreement, the College remains a separate corporation, with its own Board of Trustees responsible for the general oversight of its affairs and for its financial support.

Though significantly evolved, the current mission of the College remains closely connected to the founding principle, which was to "provide a new kind of schooling for New York City's poor, one dedicated to helping them improve the quality of their everyday lives." Since the beginning, this mission has been viewed broadly as education writ large, taking in the life of communities, families and other educative influences along with life in classrooms and schools. Today, Teachers College is a graduate and professional school, focusing on education, health and human development in and out of the classroom and across the lifespan. Teachers College is dedicated to promoting equity and excellence in education and overcoming the gap in educational access and achievement between the most and least advantaged groups in this country. The College is committed to being a magnet institution that attracts, supports, and retains diverse students, faculty, and staff at all levels through its demonstrated commitment to social justice, its respectful and vibrant community of research, teaching and service, and its encouragement and support of all individuals in the achievement of their full potential.

Teachers College engages in programs of research, teaching, and service through six principal activities:
  1. Research on the critical issues facing education
  2. Preparation of the next generation of leaders for education
  3. Education of the current generation of leaders in policy and practice
  4. Creation of demonstration projects and institutions modeling effective practice and outcomes 
  5. Development of public discourse and policy in education
  6. Improvement of practice in educational institutions.
Through these activities, Teachers College continues to pursue its historic mission of educational improvement while at the same time generating new knowledge, discovering innovative models of practice and professional development, and helping to devise more effective policies, systems and institutions to increase levels of learning and human development for all learners across the lifespan.
The six goals of the Assessment Plan 2010-2015 address Teachers College’s commitment to:
  1. Engage in research on central issues facing education broadly defined.
  2. Educate the current and next generation of leaders in education practice and policy.
  3. Increase Teachers College’s impact—locally, nationally, and internationally.
  4. Develop a diverse community with shared mission.
  5. Ensure long-term financial viability of the College.
  6. Assure highest quality of service to the College community.

Each academic and non-academic unit has its own mission statement that defines the unit’s primary purpose and provides direction for all unit activities. In the process of specifying unit goals, each unit is guided by the College’s mission and stated goals, supplemented by the goals from the respective Vice Presidents. Teachers College’s subsidiary goals become primary goals for individual units, and units’ subsidiary goals become strategies for achieving the College’s goals.


Below are a few examples of how different units see their missions in light of the College’s overall mission:

  • The Office of Admission at Teachers College, Columbia University is integral to the College’s teaching, research and service mission, and works to enhance the educational, social and cultural opportunities available to our students. The staff provides leadership for the integration of programs and services that enhance recruitment and retention efforts. The staff strives to demonstrate sensitivity and integrity while implementing policies on admission to a diverse population of students.
  • The mission of the Office of School and Community Partnerships is to establish networks and leverage opportunities that best utilize TC’s outstanding expertise and resources to the benefit of underserved and underrepresented youth in the City. Our partnership activities are numerous and various because they are designed and developed around the specific needs of participants.
  • The mission of the Office of International Affairs is to lead the College in building sustainable and mutually beneficial partnerships that promote quality scholarship and practice. OIA is responsible for coordinating, developing, and expanding the scope of TC’s international initiatives. The office acts as a liaison between internal and international entities, sets guidelines for collaboration and serves as a clearing house for international information and resources.
  • The Office of Human Resources is committed to recruit, retain, and motivate talented employees. We provide information and expertise as internal consultants for faculty and staff in the fulfillment of the College and Vice President for Finance and Administration missions. We are dedicated to promote a positive work experience that is characterized by fair treatment, personal accountability and mutual respect. The Human Resources Team will foster solutions to workplace issues that support the College's goals and optimize the value of our employees.
  • The mission of the Office of Development and External Affairs is to develop a robust, consistent, and sustainable fundraising program that draws on a broad base of support. The office provides vital resources for the faculty, students and staff of Teachers College through strategic outreach and cultivation of alumni and friends, dynamic, targeted communications efforts, and an integrated operation that represents the best of TC to all internal and external constituencies.


The Institutional Plan for the Assessment of Institutional Effectiveness is a compilation of the College’s primary and subsidiary goals along with unit goals and strategies. In addition to the primary and subsidiary goals, the process uses the Assessment Plan Template‌ to identify realistic strategies, expected outcomes, progress and performance measures, timelines, and individuals responsible for implementation of strategies and assessment activities.
Each non-academic unit completes the template, documents the achievements to date, and updates the template as appropriate. The use of common templates for the assessment of progress and performance reduces fragmentation and presents a cohesive picture of the institutional assessment activities.