Japan's Universities and CLA+

a proposal for Japan's English-language Universities

International Assessment Group Proposes Consortium

Valid and Credible Critical Thinking Assessment for Use in Japan

CLA+ (Collegiate Learning Assessment) is an English-language critical thinking and written communication performance assessment used for growth, comparative, and pedagogical research. The test is unique due to its performance-based design and focus on writing and critical thinking. Students are given a dynamic and interactive format to demonstrate skills.

The assessment is delivered online and uses real-world problem-solving tasks to measure student ability. Our team can select the most culturally relevant and representative tasks for Japanese students. The protocol ensures validity, credibility, and security. Several studies demonstrate its predictive validity for post-university success.

CLA+ as a Bridge to the International Community

English proficiency is not enough. For many students, CLA+ may be the first opportunity to demonstrate critical thinking skills in English.

Institutions will better understand student ability necessary for access to international employers and networks. Our assessment provides data not only on how well students know English, but their ability to understand problems and use evidence to communicate solutions.

These skills are required in the digital information age. Language mastery is requisite but not sufficient for post-collegiate success. Students need to be able to search, find, analyze, and communicate new information. These skills are captured at length on CLA+.

CLA+ CareerConnect

Our team has designed a digital badging system, available for high-performing students, which communicates secure and valid data to employers and graduate schools. Our protocols ensure recipients know they can trust the scores from our database. We have distributed reliable institutional data since 2002 and individual students students since 2013.

These skills can and should supplement other English-language measures. CLA+ skills are hard to capture through grades, transcripts, and existing measures. This system also motivates students to gain validity for institutional claims.

Why CLA+ and Japan's Leading Universities?

For Japan's universities, this assessment can be used to ensure a quality, internationally recognized education. Our team proposes a voluntary consortium consisting of Japan's leading universities. The importance of English communication, writing, and international comparative data is signaled to stakeholders, faculty, and students.

The consortium, with CLA+ support, would assist universities with administrative procedures unique to Japan's higher education setting, create the best plans for sampling and recruiting students, and, most importantly, collaborate on the best ways to diagnose and develop critical thinking skills for Japanese students.

CLA+ Purposes for the Institution: Data to Develop Global Skills

  • VALUE-ADD - How are students improving in core competencies demanded by the global workforce?
  • DIAGNOSTIC- How can institutions identify student strengths and deficiencies? What implementations are necessary?
  • MASTERY - How are students performing compared to employer expectations and similar students at other Japanese and US institutions?
  • COMPARATIVE - How are students performing and improving compared to other institutions? These can be available for international and domestic analyses.
  • EFFECTIVENESS- Are certain pedagogical practices more effective than others? Can we identify these practices?

Institutional and Individual Feedback on International Skills

Analysis and Problem Solving
Writing Effectiveness
Writing Mechanics
Scientific and Quantitative Reasoning
Critical Reading and Evaluation

Critique an Argument


CAE proposes a consortium for all English-language Japanese universities.

Please contact outreach@cae.org to signal interest and further explore these ideas. Webinars listed below in Japan Standard Time (JST).

5/17/16 Tuesday, May 17th 11:00 am JST
5/19/16 Thursday, May 19th 9:00 am JST

5/25/16 Wednesday, May 25th 12:00 pm JST

Our team can be flexible with times to accommodate.

More details to follow.


CLA+ was established by CAE (Council for Aid to Education) in 2002. CAE is a New York-based non-profit providing data, assessment, and research support since 1952. To date, more than 1,000 colleges and high schools have participated in CAE's high school and higher education assessment programs.

International Partnerships

CLA+ has recently entered a partnership with The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to further expand its international efforts.

Akita International University is currently using CLA+. We can kindly put in touch with our colleagues.