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Press Release

Contact: Debra Humphreys
Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs
202-387-3760 ext. 422

Liberal Education Outcomes Widely Endorsed as Essential For Success, But Evidence Sparse on College Achievement, New Report Suggests

Invitational Forum Will Present Data on College Learning Outcomes, New Approaches to Assessment, and Implications for Accreditation and Federal and State Policy

Event: Assessment Forum and Release of Report, Liberal Education Outcomes: A Preliminary Report on Student Achievement in College

Date: November 4, 2005; 8:30 – 11:00 a.m. (continental breakfast at 8 a.m.)

Location: National Press Club

Speakers: Carol Geary Schneider, president, Association of American Colleges and Universities
Judith Eaton, president, Council on Higher Education Accreditation
Ross Miller, director of programs, Association of American Colleges and Universities

Washington, DC—October 12, 2005—The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) will release the first report from its new campaign, Liberal Education and America’s Promise: Excellence for Everyone as a Nation Goes to College, at an invitational forum for higher education leaders and media scheduled for November 4, 2005 at the National Press Club. It will feature data and approaches to the assessment of college learning outcomes as well as reflections from higher education and policy experts on the implications of this new data for educational policy and accreditation practices.

This national report, Liberal Education Outcomes: A Preliminary Report on Student Achievement in College, builds on AAC&U’s earlier publication, Our Students’ Best Work: A Framework for Accountability Worthy of Our Mission released by its board of directors in 2004. It will document the emerging consensus among educators, the business community, and the accreditation community about a set of key learning outcomes essential for all college students in the 21st century. It suggests that little national data is available on how well students are achieving these key outcomes. The report documents, however, that what national data does exist suggests that far too few students are achieving important outcomes that will be essential to their success in the new global economy and as citizens of a participatory democracy.

This invitational forum will feature findings from the report as well as details about promising new assessment practices at colleges and universities across the country. These new approaches hold promise for providing much more comprehensive data on student achievement.

Two other new AAC&U publications will also be released at the event, including The Art and Science of Assessing General Education Outcomes, published as part of AAC&U’s Greater Expectations initiative, and Advancing Liberal Education: Assessment Practices on Campus.

The Forum is co-sponsored by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). CHEA has been addressing the issue of student learning outcomes as this relates to institutional and programmatic accreditation since 2000, developing publications and holding workshops that focus on how accrediting organizations, working with their accredited institutions and programs, can incorporate appropriate expectations of evidence of student learning in accreditation standards. CHEA published Accreditation and Student Learning Outcomes: A Point of Departure in 2001. This document laid out fundamental issues and challenges for accrediting organizations seeking to strengthen their capacity to work with student learning outcomes. In 2003, CHEA published its Statement of Mutual Responsibilities for Student Learning Outcomes: Accreditation, Institutions and Programs articulating key principles to be used when focusing on accreditation and outcomes.

If you are a member of the media and interested in attending, please contact Ursula Gross at 202-884-0811;

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 1,000 accredited public and private colleges and universities of every type and size.

AAC&U functions as a catalyst and facilitator, forging links among presidents, administrators, and faculty members who are engaged in institutional and curricular planning. Its mission is to reinforce the collective commitment to liberal education at both the national and local levels and to help individual institutions keep the quality of student learning at the core of their work as they evolve to meet new economic and social challenges.

Information about AAC&U membership, programs, and publications can be found at

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is an institutional membership organization that coordinates institutional and programmatic accreditation in the United States. CHEA is a national advocate and institutional voice for self-regulation of academic quality through accreditation. CHEA represents the interests of its members to the federal government on matters of accreditation and academic quality, reviews and affirms(“recognizes”) the quality of accrediting organizations and provides a range of membership and other services. Founded in 1996, approximately 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities are now members of CHEA. For additional information, please contact CHEA at or visit the CHEA Website at