68 Institutions in Nine States to Pilot New Approach to Learning Outcomes Assessment

Washington, DC—June 23, 2014—The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) announced today the 68 institutions—including both 2-year and 4-year institutions—participating in the Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment (MSC) supported in its initial planning year with funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The nine states currently participating in the MSC include: Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Utah. See: www.sheeo.org/msc for full list of participating institutions.

“I am pleased and excited that faculty and leaders from so many public colleges, community colleges, and universities in so many states are joining together to assess students’ work using a common approach,” said George Pernsteiner, the president of SHEEO. “What our faculty learn from this work will help them improve teaching and student learning and will provide valuable and defensible information to show that students are learning, and what that learning means in terms of the understanding and skills needed to succeed in life.”

Part of AAC&U’s ongoing VALUE (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education) initiative, the 68 institutions in the MSC will pilot test a cross-state and cross-institutional effort to document how well students are achieving key learning outcomes like quantitative reasoning, written communication, and critical thinking by assessing authentic student work products using a set of common rubrics. Faculty members across the 68 institutions will be sampling and assessing students’ work and establishing the reliability and validity of cross-institutional assessment using this new approach. During its initial year, the project will be building faculty assessment capacity and collecting student work products. The project will also be developing a Web-based data platform for uploading student work samples and assessment data.

In its earlier phases of work, VALUE published 16 rubrics developed and tested by teams of faculty and other educational professionals that are aligned with the LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes and also with the intellectual skills highlighted in the Degree Qualifications Profile. Over 2,000 colleges and universities and community colleges in the U.S. already are using VALUE rubrics to assess student work.
Leadership in organizing the MSC came through the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, which, as part of its Vision Project, piloted use of AAC&U’s VALUE rubrics to assess student learning in Massachusetts. Working with AAC&U and SHEEO, leaders in Massachusetts subsequently helped organize a nine-state collaboration that is developing platforms and protocols for scaling the use of this approach to quality assurance.

”The calls are mounting daily for higher education to be able to show what students can successfully do with their learning,” said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider. “The Multi-State Collaborative is a very important step toward focusing assessment on the best evidence of all: the work students produce in the course of their college studies. It is exciting and inspiring to see that so many campuses want to be part of this important national study and change effort.”

For more information, see VALUE and Multi-State Collaborative on Learning Outcomes Assessment.