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U.S. Department of Education Awards $2.45 Million for Improved Measures of Achievement for Post-Secondary Students


U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings has announced an award of $2.45 million to The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), in conjunction with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC), to provide reliable and valid measures for assessing student learning at the post-secondary level. The Postsecondary Achievement and Institutional Performance Pilot Program grant was made available through the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education’s (FIPSE).

“This pilot program will help bring important information to parents and students to help in their college decision making process, as they deserve,” said Secretary Spellings. “Clear measures of student achievement at the post-secondary level will also assist policy-makers and institutions better diagnose problems and target resources to address gaps.”

The FIPSE Postsecondary Student Achievement and Institutional Performance Pilot Program aids the development of methods and implementation of mechanisms to measure, assess and report on postsecondary student achievement and institutional performance outcomes. The three associations will work with their more than 1600 public and private, two-year and four-year member institutions to implement their project goals.

This grant is an outcome of the Secretary’s Action Plan for Higher Education, where she proposed to explore incentives for states and institutions that collect and report student learning outcome data. Last year, the Secretary’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education found that despite increased attention to student learning results by colleges and universities, parents and students still have no solid evidence of how much students learn in college or whether they learn more at one college than another. In its final report to the Secretary, the Commission called for colleges and universities to measure and report meaningful student learning outcomes.

AAC&U, AASCU and NASULGC will use the grant over the next 18 months to do the following:

Provide a set of reliable and valid measures for assessing undergraduate student learning across an array of learning outcomes
Determine the validity of standardized tests currently available
Develop a new instrument reflecting student growth based on curriculum-linked measures


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