VALUE: Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education
AAC&U is now engaged in a new phase of the VALUE initiative supported with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Begun in December 2013, this grant supports one-year of initial work on two interrelated projects including VALUE, but also another initiative called GEMs (General Education Maps and Markers). Funding for VALUE supports the activities of the Multistate Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment (MSC) - a partnership among the State Higher Education Executive Officers’ association (SHEEO)and nine state higher education systems and two- and four-year campuses in those states.
In this new phase of VALUE, AAC&U is working in partnership with the SHEEO organization and the MSC partnership and an additional set of independent colleges and universities to lay a foundation for using VALUE rubrics to assess student authentic work, create protocols and parameters for a scale-able VALUE assessment and processes for reporting the results of using the VALUE rubrics.
Five key deliverables of the VALUE initiative:
- a methodology for ensuring a high level of reliability and validity of the results of using the VALUE rubrics minimally to assess 3 broad, cross-cutting outcomes – written communication, quantitative reasoning and critical thinking;
- completion of VALUE protocols for data collection and processing, and curation plans for student authentic work from multiple campuses across the participating states, colleges and universities;
- “proof of concept” testing of the process for identifying and gathering samples of student work—including multiple public institutions in nine state systems (coordinated by SHEEO) as part of the Multistate Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment and select private institutions (selected and coordinated by AAC&U);
- establishment of the VALUE l database platform for benchmarking student learning; and
- a business plan for the long-term implementation and use of a VALUE database platform for assessment of student learning
About SHEEO and the MSC
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 70 colleges, community colleges, and universities in nine states.
GEMs (General Education Maps and Markers) will recommend ways that faculty can apply Essential Learning Outcomes (ELOs), VALUE rubrics and the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) proficiencies and principles to cornerstone-to-capstone redesigns for 21st century general education. GEMs will not attempt to describe the specific knowledge that students ought to attain in different parts of the general education curriculum. GEMs will, however, suggest ways that widely endorsed categories of general education knowledge can be integrated with the specific DQP proficiencies based on the ELOs to create purposeful, portable, and empowering forms of learning.