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Key Outcome #5: Preparing Citizens

In March 2012, the Board of Higher Education voted to add a seventh key Vision Project outcome to the six that were approved in 2010: becoming a national leader in the preparation of students to be active, engaged, informed citizens. This step was taken in order to align the programmatic goals of the Vision Project more fully with the initiative's underlying vision: to produce the "best-educated citizenry and workforce" in the nation. The Board's action makes Massachusetts the first state to include civic learning and engagement as part of a system-wide program of accountability measures.

In May 2014, the Board voted to incorporate civic learning as an "expected outcome" for undergraduate students beginning in the 2014-15 academic year. This reaffirmed the 2012 vote and began the process of finding a way to measure it. The Board defined the scope of civic learning as follows:

The Board encouraged the state’s public campuses to develop their own programs and curricula to foster civic learning as defined by the new policy, while also announcing a four-point action plan to advance the system wide goals through:

  1. Attention to civic learning as a goal in campus strategic plans;
  2. Facilitation and support for campus work in civic learning through conferences and meetings to share best practices and provide funding for campus projects;
  3. Development of new ways to measure and report students' civic learning outcomes;
  4. Collaboration with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop a cross-sector plan for civic learning from kindergarten through college.

A complete copy of the Civic Learning policy is available here.

The work to develop a system for measuring civic learning is still ongoing. Initial discussions began at the first Statewide Conference on Civic Learning, where policymakers, administrators and faculty gathered to hear campus best practices and delve into critical aspects of the implementation of the civic learning policy.