Assessment of Core Educational Proficiencies

The Assessment of Core Educational Proficiencies (ACEP) is a formative assessment that allows students, parents, faculty, and administrators to track the progress of a student’s skills through time in respect to critical thinking, problem solving, and effective writing. It grew out of the challenge presented by Academically Adrift (2010) and the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education: to (a) effectively measure and (b) improve the critical thinking, problem solving, and effective writing skills of college students. A beta version of the first ACEP assessment was undertaken in spring 2014 with seven schools: University of Montana, Stephen F. Austin State University, University of North Texas, Grinnell College, Utah State University, Western Washington University, and Hawaii Pacific University.

ACEP differs from most current assessments – especially ACT, CLA, CAT, and ETS – by (a) being significantly lower in cost, (b) being formative in focus rather than summative (in line with the SAT’s new affiliation with Khan Academy), (c) emphasizing questions that employers can readily use to assess a student’s work potential, (d) including teachers as activist participants in the skill development process, and (e) providing quick feedback (in accord with its formative focus). To support this quick “turn around,” the essay portions of the assessment will be machine graded.

The hope is that, through the use of ACEP, students and their families as well as colleges will have a ready way of assessing to what degree students are developing key critical thinking, problem solving, and effective writing skills that both college faculty and employers view as key to successful post-graduation careers. Students can test themselves at the end of a semester or at the end of a school year and within a few days receive an assessment of to what degree they have, or have not, improved in their critical thinking, problem-solving, and effective writing skills.