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

Guiding Principles
Project descriptions and FAQs for general communication

MSC overview in brochure format June 2014 (Please contact if you would like copies of this brochure.)
PRESS RELEASE June 24 2014
Connecticut press release May 6 2014
Kentucky press release June 26 2014
Kentucky is one of nine states participating in a new collaborative to better assess what students are learning in their college studies.
Inside Higher Ed June 25 2014
Army Times
eCampus News

For Faculty
Who is Leading the MSC?
Steering Committee
Participating Institutions
Allocation of Funds Policy 


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.

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.

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.

Guiding Principles

  • 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. 

Who is leading the MSC? Who is participating in the MSC? How will it work?

Nine states have agreed to pilot-test the assessment of authentic student working using AAC&U's LEAP VALUE rubrics. State higher education executives in each of these states have designated a cohort of 68 campuses—including two-year and four-year institutions—to participate in the first phase of the project.

The MSC is being led by a steering committee of individuals at SHEEO and AAC&U, and in each of the nine participating states. Each campus has designated a campus leader and in its first year the project is engaging hundreds of faculty in local activities to build capacity to assess and improve student learning. Over time, the project will build upon early efforts and seek to build ongoing opportunities for faculty to learn from and share information with colleagues across departments, institutions, and states about assignment design, assessment techniques, and teaching and learning approaches that increase student success.

For Faculty

Benefits and Challenges for Faculty - At a Glance

Assignment Design and Cover Sheet for Faculty

MSC Sampling Protocols

MSC Sampling Protocols FAQ and Clarification

MSC Sample Plan Matrix and Evaluation Tool

Other Resources
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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