LEAP State: Massachusetts

Member Organization: Massachusetts Department of Higher Education; public colleges and universities in Massachusetts

Year Joined: 2012

LEAP Mission: The Massachusetts Department of Education became a LEAP State as an extension of its ongoing Vision Project, through which leaders across the Massachusetts system of public colleges and universities work collaboratively to achieve two goals: produce the best-educated citizenry and workforce in the nation, and achieve national leadership in research that drives economic development. Through the LEAP State network, Massachusetts will accelerate its efforts to demonstrate a better approach to assessing student learning.

Featured Engagement Strategy: Twenty-eight Massachusetts public campuses involved in undergraduate education and the Department of Higher Education worked together to develop AMCOA—Advancing a Massachusetts Culture of Assessment—a three pronged effort to help strengthen campus-level assessment, develop a Massachusetts system for statewide learning outcomes assessment, and form partnerships with other states to work together on a statewide assessment of student learning. The two prongs involving state-wide assessment based on the LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes became the Massachusetts LEAP State Initiative.


To help strengthen campus assessment programs, an AMCOA Team with faculty members and assessment professionals from all campuses has been meeting since 2011. The AMCOA Team functions as a learning community with campuses sharing best practices, exploring common problems and issues, and experimenting with new learning outcomes assessment approaches. AMCOA conferences and meetings have attracted increasing numbers of faculty over the years. In addition, the Task Force on Statewide Assessment—with representatives from twenty-two campuses—developed an assessment model using the written communication, quantitative literacy, and critical thinking LEAP VALUE Rubrics; and serves as the policymaking and program oversight for statewide learning outcomes assessment efforts.

Contact: Robert Awkward, Director of Learning Outcomes Assessment at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, rawkward@bhe.mass.edu

Other Initiatives: 

  • In addition to becoming a LEAP partner state, Massachusetts was one of nine states involved in AAC&U’s Quality Collaboratives initiative, funded with support from Lumina Foundation.  Through that initiative, Massachusetts is utilizing Tuning and the Degree Qualifications Profile – which describes the knowledge, skills, and applications that prepare graduates to succeed in the economy, civil society, and their own lives - to develop learning outcomes for nineteen academic disciplines for statewide use by discipline-specific faculty as part of the Massachusetts Transfer Pathways. Also, an informational hub to serve as a central location for statewide and institutional assessment information and resources with links to relevant national sites and various social media platforms is under development.
  • Massachusetts's Working Group on Student Learning Outcomes and Assessment (WGSLOA) was formed in 2009 in an effort to better understand and demonstrate what students know and are able to do as a result of their college experiences. WGSLOA brought together faculty, administrators, and students from public colleges and universities to work on both campus and system levels. More information can be found here.

For more information, contact Eddie Watson, Associate Vice President for Quality, Advocacy, and LEAP Initiatives, at watson@aacu.org