Massachusetts LEAP State Initiative
On the recommendation of the Vision Project Working Group on Student Learning Outcomes and Assessment (PDF: Phase II Report), the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE) directed Commissioner Freeland in June 2011 to begin planning to apply for LEAP State status from the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). Commissioner Freeland assembled an Advisory Group of Presidents who worked with him on the application, including a proposal for a signature initiative to develop an assessment system that:
- Presents assessment outcomes in ways understandable by non-academic stakeholders;
- Centers on using actual student work, closely linked to curriculum and to the instruction work of the faculty; and
- Allows comparison of student learning across institution and state lines.
AAC&U accepted Massachusetts and its proposed LEAP State initiative, which then proceeded on two tracks: the state level and the national level. A Timeline of Massachusetts' Work on Learning Outcomes Assessment (.PDF) also details the milestones of these efforts.
Work officially began in June 2012 to develop (1) a Massachusetts model for learning outcomes assessment that meets the above criteria and (2) a plan to pilot the model beginning January 2013. This work, bringing together 22 public campuses with the Department of Higher Education, is overseen by the Massachusetts Task Force on Statewide Assessment and executed by the 11-member Massachusetts Team with input from the State Partner Team.
The first pilot of the Massachusetts Model, utilizing authentic student work from seven public campuses in Massachusetts, ran from January to April 2013. After studying the results, the Massachusetts Team prepared a report for the Massachusetts Task Force on Statewide Assessment, recommending continuing with a second pilot. The Task Force made the same recommendation to Commissioner Freeland, who agreed to a second pilot that will replicate and run parallel to the first national pilot.
Beginning in March 2012, Massachusetts, SHEEO and AAC&U discussed with other states the proposal for a Multistate Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment (MSC), and in December 2012 eight other states joined the partnership: Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Utah. Each state appointed members to the MSC as a whole and to an MSC Working Group, which then began the work of developing (1) a multistate model for learning outcomes assessment that meets the above criteria and (2) a plan to pilot the model in 2014.