Charge to Working Group on Student Learning Outcomes and Assessment
The Working Group has been asked to address its charge in two phases.
Phase One (Spring 2009)
In Phase One, the Working Group was asked to:
- Review descriptions of campus-level programs for student learning outcomes and assessment.
- Review studies, reports and recommendations by national and state higher education organizations that focus on student learning outcomes, campus-based assessment programs, nationally normed tests of student learning and other assessment measures.
- Consider the report (.PDF) of the Commissioner's Advisory Group on Undergraduate Education (CAGUE), which includes a set of proposed student learning outcomes and related recommendations that reflect employer, citizen, and legislative perspectives on the competencies needed by college graduates for career and citizenship demands and a set of recommendations for campus actions; also consider the comments on the CAGUE Report sent to Commissioner Freeland by college presidents.
- Consider the Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative sponsored by the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U).
- Weigh approaches to assessment that value our system of institutional diversity and contribute to reductions in performance gaps over time among different ethnic/racial, economic and gender groups.
The Phase One report was to include analysis and commentary on:
- Overall strengths and weaknesses of campus learning outcomes and assessment programs.
- Approaches for building on our strengths even in an era of drastically constrained resources. Are there possibilities for collaborative activity and/or for highlighting model programs and best practices that would be helpful to campuses and could be promoted by DHE?
- Reactions to the student learning outcomes outlined in the CAGUE Report and your sense of the fit between these outcomes and those in use on the campuses.
- Reactions to the learning outcomes developed as part of the LEAP program and our sense of the fit between these outcomes and those in use on the campuses. Should Massachusetts become a LEAP state?
Phase Two (Fall 2010)
In Phase Two, the Working Group is asked to focus more directly at the state level and:
- Consider development of a set of student learning outcomes that reflect the common aspirations of the campuses and consider the advantages of having all public campuses use them with the understanding that campuses would continue to have additional learning outcomes based on their own unique missions, programs and student bodies.
- Review studies, reports and recommendations by national and state higher education organizations that focus on state-level, as opposed to institutional, policies and best practices for the assessment of college student learning, including materials about state-mandated testing and state practices that link student learning assessment with statewide planning, performance measurement, public accountability, state ranking systems and international comparisons in higher education.
- Consider the most effective way to implement the Vision Project outcome that calls for Massachusetts to be a national leader in academic achievements of public college students on campus-level and national assessments of learning.
- Consider issues of accountability and transparency as they relate to student learning outcomes and assessment.
The Phase Two report is to include analysis and commentary on:
- Where Massachusetts stands in comparison to others in state efforts to support learning outcomes and assessment.
- Issues of state policy and practice, assessment tests, state rankings, accountability and transparency.
- A plan for system-wide learning assessment based on a set of common learning outcomes and assessment measures that builds on and supports strong campus-based assessment programs.