Assessment of

Core Educational


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.

The project grew out of the challenge presented by Academically Adrift (2010) and the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education (2006-2012): to both measure and improve the critical thinking, problem solving, and effective writing skills of college students. A beta version of the first ACEP assessment was undertaken 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 formative in focus, (b) emphasizing questions that employers can readily use to assess a student’s work potential, (c) including teachers as active participants in the skill development process, (d) providing quick feedback (in accord with its formative focus), and (e) being significantly less expensive than other assessments. To support this quick “turn around,” the essay portions of the assessment are machine graded.

The hope is that, using 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.

Key to the project is interpreting students written answers to a set of ten questions.  While progress has been made on a code to do this, it is a complex process and work still remains to be done.  It is hoped to complete the coding when time becomes available.