News Release from AASCU


Contact: Jennifer Walpole (AASCU) (202) 478-4665

Contact: Jeff Lieberson (APLU) (202) 478-6073

Contact: Natasha Jankowski (NILOA) (314) 803-4229


Washington, D.C. – A group of higher education organizations today announced the creation of a new national designation program for colleges and universities that demonstrate excellence at self-assessment to drive internal improvement and further student success.  The Excellence in Assessment (EIA) program – the first national initiative of its kind – will recognize institutions that successfully integrate assessment practices across campus, provide evidence of student learning outcomes, and use assessment results to guide institutional decision-making and improve student performance. 

The new EIA designations will provide systematic and nationally recognized evaluation of colleges and universities to help reveal best practices in campus-wide assessment.  Institutions working to implement and sustain comprehensive use of assessment of student learning outcomes in written communication and critical thinking are eligible to receive the Designations.

The Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA), a public college and university transparency initiative led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) unveiled the EIA program.  The Designations were the joint conception of APLU, AASCU, the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) and the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA). 

“Through the Voluntary System of Accountability, APLU and AASCU have sought to increase the transparency of public colleges and universities through the public reporting student learning outcomes since 2007,” said APLU President Peter McPherson.  “The VSA has evolved to encourage institutions to provide meaningful and transparent information about student learning on campus. The Excellence in Assessment Designations will fill a gap in recognizing campuses that are actively applying best practices and create a platform for sharing and hopefully replicating the good work of those institutions.”

“In keeping with AASCU’s Excellence and Innovation Awards, the EIA designations serve both as recognition and inspiration for institutions that are striving to provide the highest quality education to their students,” said AASCU President Muriel Howard. “Much like the Carnegie Community Engagement Classifications, the EIA designation program will identify campuses that are leading by example in integration of their learning outcomes assessment.”

The EIA Designations are built directly from NILOA’s Transparency Framework, and they will be the first national program designed to recognize institutions engaging in intentional campus-wide assessment.  Evaluation for the designation will include a rigorous and systematic self-study and peer review by faculty members who are assessment experts, enabling campuses to improve their effectiveness and allow sharing of best practices.

Designees will be awarded in two tiers, depending on the phase of their institutional assessment development.

  • Excellence Designees are institutions demonstrating strong leadership and commitment to building or re-building a culture of evidence-based decision-making centered on the use of campus-level assessment results. Excellence campuses may, for example, already have in place the building blocks of widespread program assessment, but are taking the next steps to integrate their use of student learning outcomes to inform campus decision-making. Alternatively, Excellence campuses may already complete most of the steps of assessing student learning at the campus level, but are intentionally addressing gaps in their alignment or processes.
  • Sustained Excellence Designees are institutions that have maintained and/or evolved their integrated campus-level student learning outcomes assessment over a period of five (5) or more years. Sustained Excellence campuses have a solid foundation and track record of integration of assessment data from across campus and of using assessment results to guide campus programs and curriculum.

Schools will immediately be able to begin the application process with the deadline for submission on April 1, 2016.  Applicants will be notified of the results in July with a public announcement in August.


The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is a research, policy, and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.  With a membership of 237 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations, APLU's agenda is built on the three pillars of increasing degree completion and academic success, advancing scientific research, and expanding engagement.

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of more than 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.

Established in 2008, the mission of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) is to discover and disseminate ways that academic programs and institutions can productively use assessment data internally to inform and strengthen undergraduate education, and externally to communicate with policy makers, families and other stakeholders.

The Association of American Colleges & Universities (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 1,300 member institutions-including accredited public and private colleges, community colleges, research universities, and comprehensive universities of every type and size.