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Change Magazine Publishes Story on Vision Project Work in Student Learning Outcomes Assessment

Highlights model for statewide assessment based on use of AAC&U rubrics, developed in partnership with 22 Massachusetts public campuses

Cover of Change MagazineJune 6—Recently Pat Crosson, DHE's Senior Advisor for Academic Policy, and Bonnie Orcutt, DHE's Director of Student Learning Outcomes Assessment, were invited by the editor of Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning to prepare an article about the work in Massachusetts to develop a statewide program of student learning outcomes assessment that does not rely on standardized testing. The article, which also covers the initial work of the Multi-State Collaborative piloting a model, has now been published online and in hard copies of Change.

With support from the Davis Education Foundation, and in collaboration with 22 public campuses, in 2012–2013 the DHE developed and pilot-tested a Massachusetts plan for statewide learning outcomes assessment based on use of the Association of American Colleges & Universities’ LEAP (Liberal Education & America's Promise) VALUE (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education) Rubrics for written communication, quantitative literacy, and critical thinking. Also with Davis support, Massachusetts developed a partnership with eight other states, the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO), and AAC&U: the Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment. Currently underway in all nine states, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is a pilot test of a learning outcomes assessment model that provides useful information for campuses and a basis for comparisons and public reporting on student learning that is essential for the Vision Project. For Massachusetts, this is our second pilot study of the plan for statewide assessment. Many faculty members, academic and assessment leaders, and campus presidents in Massachusetts and other states have been part of this effort, and it has received national attention as an alternative to standardized testing in higher education.

>> Read the article (Free for Change subscribers; at a fee for non-subscribers)


From Civic Learning to College Completion

Two Campus Reports on the Vision Project PIF Grants

Left: Westfield State students participating in a community gardening project; right: Middlesex Community College students at commencement

January 28—Doubling graduation rates in three years. Adding civic learning to academic coursework, including math and science. Today the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education heard from officials at Westfield State University and Middlesex Community College, both recipients of Vision Project Performance Incentive Fund (VP-PIF) grants, on their ambitious work to realize the Vision Project goal of producing “the best-educated citizenry and workforce in the nation.”

Westfield State University

Westfield received two grants totaling $245,000 to hire a campus director of civic engagement and support faculty development of 17 official civic engagement courses. WSU’s goal is to embed civic learning in at least one required course in every academic department. To that end, Westfield has already developed courses such as Civic Engagement and Math, where students assist local non-profits with budgeting.

“If we’re going to inspire students to a lifelong habit of civic engagement, we need to understand that social problems are shared problems and we need to do something about them,” said Marsha Marotta, Westfield’s Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Middlesex Community College

Middlesex is using $249,000 in VP-PIF grants to redesign advising and course enrollment policies with an eye toward improving student graduation and transfer rates. In its report to the BHE, MCC staff did not shy away from describing a host of academic challenges and announcing ambitious targets for improvement. The campus is developing curriculum maps and meta-majors to help guide students in their academic pursuits; a large-scale block scheduling pilot and completion-focused advising will debut in fall 2014.

“Our hope is that by 2017, we will have increased (IPEDs) graduation rates from 13% to 26% and increased the transfer rate from 24% to 35%,” Clea Andreadis, Associate Provost for Instruction and Assessment, told the Board.


DHE Releases 2013 Vision Project Annual Report

Second Annual Report Highlights Signs of Campus Progress on Graduation Rate Goals, New Efforts to Reform Costly Remedial Education Programs

Cover of the Within Our Sights reportOctober 21—In keeping with the Patrick Administration’s commitment to invest in public higher education, Massachusetts community colleges, state universities and UMass campuses are reporting initial signs of progress in their efforts to graduate more students and better prepare them for jobs in the Commonwealth’s knowledge-based industries, according to a major new report released today by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.

Within Our Sights: Inside Campus Efforts to Achieve National Leadership in Higher Education is the second in a series of annual reports tracking progress through the Vision Project, a Board of Higher Education-approved strategic plan to achieve national leadership among state systems of public higher education. Across Massachusetts, public campuses are working to expand college access, raise graduation rates, improve the quality of student learning, align degree and certificate programs with the needs of local employers, prepare future citizens, close achievement gaps and pursue research that drives economic development.

>> Download the report
>> Download the press release

Statewide “Within Our Sights” Conference

Delegations representing all 29 of Massachusetts’ public college and university campuses attended a statewide Within Our Sights conference on Friday, October 18, and received a sneak preview of the report. The conference featured keynote speaker Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president of University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and nationally renowned expert on closing achievement gaps, and showcased exemplary campus work that is advancing the goals of the Vision Project.

>> Watch a 5-minute highlight reel on YouTube
>> View photos from the conference