SHEEO Releases Demonstration Year Results for Multi-State Collaborative (MSC) to Advance Quality Student Learning

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

March 28, 2017

SHEEO Releases Demonstration Year Results for Multi-State Collaborative (MSC) to Advance Quality Student Learning

Julie Carnahan, Vice President – State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, (303) 541-1600


Most college students are learning what they need for success. That is the takeaway from the results of a major project, spanning dozens of colleges and universities in twelve states, where faculty carefully evaluated the class work of thousands of American students.

The Multi-State Collaborative (MSC) to Advance Quality Student Learning, a partnership among the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), the State Higher Education Executive Officers association (SHEEO), and leaders from a dozen states, released data from its second year of assessments of the coursework of community college and university students. A majority of students in both types of institutions met expectations for written communications and quantitative reasoning. Results were mixed for students at both types of institutions with regard to critical thinking.

Surveys of major American employers, conducted periodically for AAC&U, have underscored the importance of clear writing, understanding quantitative material, and being able to weigh information accurately in ambiguous situations as among the most important qualities of successful workers in today’s knowledge based society. This led AAC&U to develop ways of defining and establishing levels of competency for written communications, quantitative reasoning, and critical thinking as part of its VALUE project. The resulting VALUE rubrics were the common basis used by the hundreds of faculty engaged in the MSC project.

Based on the results, faculty at many of the participating colleges and universities now are seeking to improve teaching, particularly as it relates to developing students’ critical thinking skills, using the data from the MSC project to focus on specific areas where many students did not meet expectations. Julie Carnahan of SHEEO, the project’s director, emphasized that one of the major goals of the MSC involves using the project’s data to improve teaching and learning. “The MSC produces data that will allow faculty to pinpoint how to improve instruction, make curricular changes, rethink course design, and implement more effective classroom teaching and learning methods.”  Steven Rosenstone, the chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, said, “The Multi-State Collaborative is tremendously promising because it fits with the way faculty teach and students learn.  The VALUE rubrics represent the goals that faculty, and our colleges and universities, hold for student outcomes. Our presidents are excited about this project because it could be a real breakthrough, serving as the missing link between teaching, assessment of course learning outcomes, and demonstration of real growth and advancement by students.”

George Pernsteiner, the president of SHEEO, noted that “There is a real hunger among state leaders to make sure our students actually are learning what they need in order to succeed in life and work. In part, that is motivated by what employers say is needed and, in part, by a more collective view of what is right for society.”

The twelve states participating in the MSC last year were Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, and Utah. Virginia has joined the project for the upcoming year, bringing the total state participation to thirteen.

For further information and more detailed data, please contact Julie Carnahan, Vice President of SHEEO, at

About AAC&U
AAC&U is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality, and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. Its members are committed to extending the advantages of a liberal education to all students regardless of academic specialization or intended career. Founded in 1915, AAC&U now comprises more than 1,300 member institutions including accredited public and private colleges, community colleges, research universities, and comprehensive universities of every type and size. For more information about AAC&U, visit

The State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) is the national association of state higher education leaders who serve statewide coordinating and governing boards or other state-level higher education agencies. Founded in 1954, SHEEO seeks to advance public policy and educational practices to achieve widespread access and successful participation in higher education at state and national levels. For more information about SHEEO, visit  

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