And it's not like your school is unique in this outcome, either: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41136935...learning-much/
I've been to two assessment seminars this year and the impression I am getting is that grading papers is all fine and good and important and all, but what is really being sought is some sort of foolproof system in which everyone teaches the same stuff and could give the same tests with the same outcomes because the answers are either right or wrong.
When someone points out that the only way to assess critical thinking is analyze written or oral discussions, well,.........there must be a better way. I haven't been told what it is, exactly, but everyone seems sure that it can be done. They want a standard that students can grasp easily but can't argue with--something like a math test only not, you know, math. And with the same standards for everyone (which doesn't happen in math, either).