MSC: A Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment

Link to MSC REFINEMENT YEAR (September 2016 through August 2017) information and revised documents

Link to MSC DEMONSTRATION YEAR (September 2015 through August 2016) information and revised documents

This page and the links below were created for the MSC Pilot Year. For current information about the Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Assessments, please see link above.

What is the Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment?

The MSC is an initiative designed to provide meaningful evidence about how well students are achieving important learning outcomes. The initiative foregrounds a distinctly different form of assessment than the traditional standardized test. Instead of producing reports about average scores on tests, the project is piloting the use of common rubrics applied by teams of faculty to student’ authentic college work—including such things as projects, papers, and research. The MSC is designed to produce valid data summarizing faculty judgments of students’ own work, and also seeks to aggregate results in a way that allows for benchmarking across institutions and states. The primary goal of the initiative is to provide assessment data that will allow faculty and institution leaders to assess—and improve—the levels of student achievement on a set of cross-cutting outcomes important for all disciplines.

With the active support of the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), nine states—Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Utah—agreed to collaborate in the development and pilot testing of a different model for learning outcomes assessment—a model that is rooted in campus/system collaboration, in authentic student work, and in faculty curriculum development and teaching activity. The project builds on efforts in Massachusetts (as part of its Vision Project) and builds on the AAC&U LEAP initiative through which it developed a common set of rubrics—VALUE Rubrics—to assess the LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes. In January 2015, Maine joined the MSC.

In its initial phase of work, the project is evaluating student achievement of two of the most important outcomes of a college education—written communication and quantitative reasoning. In its first year, the project is examining student work from 68 colleges, community colleges, and universities in nine states.

For any questions, please contact Gloria Auer at or (303) 541-1625.



Which States are Involved?

Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon,
Rhode Island, and Utah

What are the Guiding Principles of the MSC?

  • Any system of assessment should help build and support a culture of student learning that allows for assessment results to be used by each campus and by larger public systems for improving student learning and for program improvement.
  • Any statewide or campus plan for assessment should be based upon authentic student work and allow for the use of multiple measures of student learning—indirect, direct, and embedded—without a single mandated statewide test.
  • A common framework is needed for any credible statewide system of assessment and accountability. The AAC&U LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes and VALUE Rubrics designed to assess the Essential Learning Outcomes are a useful framework given their broad adoption nationally and their endorsement both within and outside of higher education institutions and systems. 
  • Assessment approaches should involve an iterative process, and, as such, be viewed as works in progress.
  • Assessment is most effective when it reflects an understanding of learning as multidimensional, integrated, and revealed in performance over time.

Other Resources

AAC&U VALUE: Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education case studies 

The Belmont Report from the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, April 18, 1979

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