Membership Programs Meetings Publications LEAP Press Room About AAC&U
Association of American Colleges and Universities
Search Web Site
Resources on:
Liberal Education
General Education
Student Success
Institutional Change
Civic Engagement
Global Learning
Science & Health
Connect with AACU:
Join Our Email List
RSS Feed
Follow us on Twitter
LEAP Toolkit
Support AACU
Online Giving Form
Press Room

Press Release

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

AAC&U Takes Assessment to the Next Level with Launch of  New Initiative, VALUE--Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education

Supported by State Farm Companies Foundation and part of AAC&U’s LEAP initiative, The VALUE Project Will Advance Educationally Effective Ways to Document Student Achievement of Essential Learning Outcomes

Washington, DC—September 5, 2007— The Association of American Colleges and Universities announces the launch of VALUE—Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education, with support from the State Farm Companies Foundation.  As part of AAC&U’s Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative, VALUE is designed to define, document, assess, and strengthen student achievement of essential learning outcomes important for all of today’s undergraduate students.

VALUE builds from AAC&U’s extensive work on assessment through its Greater Expectations initiative and related projects on general education, arts and sciences majors, professional majors, civic engagement, global learning, intercultural learning and science reform.

"The business community knows that you measure what you value,” says Deborah Traskell, executive vice president of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.  “The higher-education community recognizes the same thing.  Through this initiative, assessment is being positioned as a validation tool, not a punitive measure."

The project approaches assessment as an educational strategy that can—if carefully designed and faculty-led—help students reach higher levels of achievement on learning outcomes that most regard as essential preparation for work and citizenship.  But the VALUE project further recognizes that standardized testing is not the best assessment strategy for many essential outcomes, either because the needed tests don’t exist or because standardized testing is inappropriate to measure such outcomes as civic engagement or the ability to solve problems in diverse groups.

”The rush to adopt simplistic standardized tests for higher education will be a very “low-yield” strategy,” said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider.  “Instead, we must design comprehensive assessment approaches that deepen learning and enable students to demonstrate achievement of the full panoply of learning outcomes important in today’s world.” 

Responding to the need for better approaches to assessment, the VALUE project will work with campuses and national experts to develop effective ways to collect through e-portfolios evidence of student learning drawn directly from the assignments students complete as part of their required curriculum and assessed by well-developed campus rubrics.

An advisory board of assessment experts will guide the initiative.  Members of the advisory board include:

  • Kathryn Aberle, Associate Executive Director, Planning and Operations; ABET
  • Randy Bass, Assistant Provost for Teaching and Learning Initiatives; Executive Director, CNDLS; Georgetown University
  • Marcia Baxter Magolda, Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership; Miami University, OH
  • Veronica Boix Mansilla, Research Associate and Lecturer on Education; Harvard University
  • Johnnella Butler, Provost; Spellman College
  • Helen Chen, Research Scientist; Stanford University
  • Ariane Hoy, Senior Program Officer; The Bonner Foundation
  • George Kuh, Chancellor's Professor and Director, Center for Postsecondary Research; Indiana University Bloomington
  • Peggy Maki, Educational Consultant; Peggy Maki Associates
  • Marcia Mentkowski, Professor of Psychology/Director, Educational Research and Evaluation; Alverno College
  • Robert Sternberg, Dean of Arts and Sciences; Tufts University
  • Kathleen Blake Yancey, Kellogg H. Hunt Professor of English; Florida State University

The project will develop:

  • an audit of best practices that foster and assess essential learning outcomes
  • commissioned reports on practices designed to develop and assess important learning outcomes—especially those not currently covered by other existing standardized measurement tools
  • a recommended framework and electronic format for assessing and collecting evidence of student learning for multiple purposes and audiences.

Launched in 2005, the LEAP initiative is a ten-year campaign to champion the value of a liberal education—for individual students and for a nation dependent on economic creativity and democratic vitality. The campaign seeks to expand public and student understanding of what really matters in college—the kinds of learning that will truly empower students to succeed and make a difference in the 21st century.


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 nearly 1,300 member institutions—including accredited public and private colleges, community colleges, research universities, and comprehensive 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 and inclusive excellence 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.