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Press Room
AAC&U Massachusetts Department of Education

For Immediate Release

Debra Humphreys, Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs
202.387.3760, ext. 422

Katy Abel, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education

Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education Announce Massachusetts As
Eighth Partner State in AAC&U’s LEAP States Initiative

Washington, DC—March 20, 2012—The Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education announced today that Massachusetts is now a state partner in AAC&U’s signature national initiative, Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP): Excellence for Everyone as a Nation Goes to College. 

“Massachusetts sought to become a LEAP partner state because the LEAP vision for learning and its approach to student learning outcomes assessment is so consistent with Massachusetts’ Vision Project for achieving academic excellence across public higher education,” said Massachusetts Higher Education Commissioner Richard M. Freeland. “LEAP offers an extraordinary model for how our campuses can best prepare students for post-graduate life as engaged citizens and highly-skilled contributors to Massachusetts’ knowledge-based economy.”

The LEAP initiative provides a framework for Massachusetts’ groundbreaking work, through the Vision Project, to develop a model for system-level assessment of student learning, one that relies on campus-based approaches linking assessment to actual curricula and real student work rather than on standardized testing. The goal is to identify ways to compare and then publicly report the level of learning achieved by public college and university students with the level of learning achieved by students at peer institutions in other states.

“We are excited by the progress that we’ve made to date, even as we acknowledge that designing a new assessment model won’t be an easy task,” said Pat Crosson, senior advisor for academic policy at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education and leader of the Vision Project Working Group on Student Learning Outcomes and Assessment. “The LEAP State commitment to collaboration, emphasis on the quality of student learning, and widespread support among faculty members and academic leaders gives us a base from which to build something really good.”

In May, AAC&U and SHEEO, the State Higher Education Executive Officers will join Massachusetts in hosting a multi-state conference to explore participation in the Massachusetts initiative to develop a system-level assessment plan.

“AAC&U is pleased to welcome Massachusetts into full partnership with AAC&U’s LEAP initiative,” said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider.  “Massachusetts already has established a leadership role among the various state systems both in its shared vision for high quality education and in its recognition that any contemporary vision for learning also requires new ways of showing what students are accomplishing across their studies.  I am certain that the entire AAC&U membership will benefit from the models developed through this work.”

Massachusetts is also one of nine states involved in AAC&U’s new Quality Collaboratives initiative, funded with support from the Lumina Foundation.  Through that initiative, Massachusetts will work together with other participating states to examine  the potential of the recently released Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) for use in relation to student transfer from two-year to four-year institutions.  Two campus dyads – Mount Wachusett Community College and Fitchburg State University, and Middlesex Community College and the University of Massachusetts Lowell—will use the DQP to explore student learning in general education subjects and quantitative literacy among transfer students.

About LEAP

Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) is an initiative that champions the value of a liberal education—for individual students and for a nation dependent on economic creativity and democratic vitality. The initiative focuses campus practice on fostering essential learning outcomes for all students, whatever their chosen field of study.  LEAP seeks to engage the public with core questions about what really matters in college, to give students a compass to guide their learning, and to make a set of essential learning outcomes the preferred framework for educational excellence, assessment of learning, and new alignments between school and college.

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 1,250 member institutions—including accredited public and private colleges, community 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

About the Vision Project: A Public Agenda for Massachusetts Higher Education

Massachusetts public colleges and universities have united in a multi-year effort to 1) produce “the best educated citizenry and workforce in the nation” and 2) achieve national leadership in research that drives economic development. Information about the Vision Project is available at