Washington, D.C. - In a national initiative to improve student learning on U.S. campuses, more than 70 college and university presidents, including Hope College President Dr. James E. Bultman, have signed an agreement to expand their efforts in gathering and reporting evidence of student learning and using it to improve outcomes.
"As the United States sets a national goal to again lead the world in educational attainment, it is critical that undergraduate degrees and credentials reflect a high-quality education. This requires colleges and universities to develop evidence of students' skills and knowledge as they work toward and complete their undergraduate studies," said David Paris, executive director of the New Leadership Alliance for Student Learning and Accountability, which developed the initiative. "Quantity and quality both matter; higher rates of attainment need to be accompanied by higher levels of achievement."
The Presidents' Alliance members, which include two and four year, public and private colleges and universities nationwide, have also agreed to assist each other in this work, publicly report on their efforts and encourage other institutions to take similar steps.
"The Alliance will provide a national venue for model programs and effective strategies that promise positive change," said Eduardo Padrón, president of Miami Dade College. He stated that he and the other initial members "come from diverse higher education institutions with differing missions, but share a common commitment to learning excellence and to the authentic, data-driven decisions that ensure continual improvement and increased student success. We are all committed to establishing a culture of inquiry and evidence."
A description of the Presidents' Alliance, including an online searchable database that describes each institution's commitments, can be found on the Alliance's website. The commitments indicate the willingness of schools to improve their efforts and to provide a shared resource for other institutions.
"We will work in partnership with one another and with our faculty, administrators and student service professionals to find out what works, what could be better and what needs to be transformed," said Padrón.
"The Presidents' Alliance is an important step in assuring quality in undergraduate education and increasing public confidence in American colleges and universities," said Judith Eaton, president of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and chair of the board of directors of the Alliance. Eaton hopes that other institutions will join the Presidents' Alliance and help create a professional higher education community committed to evidence-based improvement.
The New Leadership Alliance for Student Learning and Accountability, established in 2009, is a non-profit advocacy-focused organization that leads and supports voluntary and cooperative efforts to move the higher education community toward gathering, reporting on and using evidence to improve student learning in American undergraduate education. The Alliance envisions a self-directed, professional higher education community that produces an increasing number of college graduates with high-quality degrees in preparation for work, life and responsible citizenship.
The work of the Alliance is supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and The Teagle Foundation.