Grand Challenges in Assessment Project


Using Assessment Findings to Increase Equity

Using Assessment Findings to Direct Immediate Pedagogical Improvements

Producing Visible and Actionable Assessment Findings that Drive Innovation and Improvement

Join an Implementation Team or Submit a Chapter Proposal Here

The Grand Challenges for Assessment in Higher Education project is a collaborative effort endorsed by ten higher education organizations to create national strategic plans to address pressing challenges facing assessment in higher education. 

National and international organizations have identified grand challenges to unify the efforts of scholars and practitioners in a field and catalyze lasting progress. Singer-Freeman and Robinson (2020) solicited feedback on grand challenges facing assessment in higher education by surveying members of the assessment community and presenting the results at national meetings. This work resulted in the identification of three challenges with broad support from the assessment community.


A leadership team representing the endorsing organizations has overseen the work of over 100 assessment professionals, faculty, and students who created three strategic plans with national and local tactics to address these important issues. Three working groups have created bold strategic plans to address the challenges.  We encourage you to join an implementation team to work on national plans to address these challenges.

Strategic Plans


Using Assessment Findings to Increase Equity
Read full plan here
Goal 1: Promote existing and create new equitable assessment practices 

1.1: Identify and share equitable assessment practices

1.2: Benchmark use and efficacy of equity-centered practices in assessment

1.3: Acknowledge and celebrate equitable practices in assessment nationally and locally 

Goal 2: Create professional development to support the practice of equitable assessment

2.1: Create an accessible online library of professional development resources

2.2: Develop strategies to empower students to contribute to assessment of learning 

​Goal 3: Engage with existing structures to increase equity 

3.1: Assess and improve equity and validity in national surveys and datasets

3.2: Engage with accrediting agencies to create standards that support equity

3.3: Create tools and guidelines to identify inequities

Current Equity Co-Chairs: Ciji Heiser, Shannon Milligan, Eliana El-Khoury, and Allison Maldonado

Previous Co-Chair: Erick Montenegro

Equity Members​: Joel Bloom, Rowanna Carpenter, Moreen Carvan, Maniphone Dickerson, Krishna Dunston, Sosanya Jones, Kimberly Long, Matthew McKay, Jessica Nastal, Renata Opoczynski, Ellen Peters, Heather Pleasants, Glenn Phillips, Eric Riedel, George Still, Kimberly Thompson, Terry Rhodes, Ereka  Williams

Using assessment findings to direct immediate pedagogical improvements
Read full plan here
Goal 1: Improve measurement of student learning over time

1.1: Identify measurement strategies to evaluate the impact of using assessment to effect pedagogical changes

1.2: Promote strategies that effectively measure student learning over time

Goal 2: Increase the use of assessment to guide rapid and equitable improvements in learning

2.1: Identify equitable assessment practices that guide rapid improvements in pedagogy

2.2: Translate research to teaching practices that guide rapid pedagogical improvements

2.3 Broaden the use of data-driven rapid improvements to pedagogy

Current Pedagogy Co-Chairs: Merideth Garcia, Justin Hoshaw, Jessica Taylor, and Yao Hill

Previous Pedagogy Co-ChairsDiane Kelly-Riley and Ruth Slotnick, 

Pedagogy Members: Michael Ben-Avie, Chris Blankenship, Kimberly Daugherty, Yao Hill, Bryant Hutson, Susan Kahn, Serafina Pastore

Producing visible and actionable assessment findings that drive innovation and improvement
Read full plan here
Goal 1: Advance innovative approaches to institutional excellence

1.1 Improve integrated planning skills in senior leadership, faculty, and staff

1.2 Increase the use of integrated planning 

1.3 Share innovative models of assessments used to guide resource allocation

1.4: Create brave and safe spaces to promote an innovative culture

1.5: Create opportunities to experiment with alternative approaches to teaching 

Goal 2: Advance innovative approaches to making institutional findings actionable

2.1. Improve quality of data by improving planning

2.2. Improve data collection by adding implementation fidelity descriptors

2.3: Improve data interpretation by increasing stakeholder engagement in the interpretation of findings 

Goal 3: Advance innovative approaches to making institutional findings visible 

3.1: Create and disseminate data visualization and data story resources

3.2: Increase use of data visualizations  

3.3: Increase use of data storytelling  

Current Innovation Co-Chairs: Dan Bureau, Joel Farrell, Michael Ben Avie, Jeanette McGreevy, Ryan Smith, and Amy Svirsky 

Previous Innovation Co-ChairsCarley Dear, Erin Isaacson, Melissa Williams, Megan Schramm-Possinger

Innovation Members: Angela Bowlus, Angela Bryan, Edward Collins, Lina Di Genova, Ashli Grabau, Gregory Lin, Kirstin Moreno, Nicholas Santilli, Teri Schnelle, Xiaomei Song, Claudia Stanny, Constance Tucker, Robert Wilkinson 

Read more about the top Grand Challenges

Intersection: A Journal at the Intersection of Assessment and Learning has released a special issue with articles addressing the Grand Challenges. Please enjoy the issue:

  1. Dear, Williams, Bowlus, Bryan, Collins, Lin, Moreno, Schnelle, Song, Stanny, & Tucker (2021) Grand Challenges Initiative: Producing actionable and accessible results that drive Innovation and improvement
  2. Hoshaw, Isaacson, Grabau, Wilkinson, Di Genova, Schramm-Possinger, Santili, Daugherty, & Ben Avie (2021). Integrated planning: The “difference that makes a difference” in institutional effectiveness over time
  3. Karnas-Haines (2021). Making assessment actionable through assessor training: A tool for building trust through moderation and calibration
  4. Milligan, Rhodes, Opoczynski, Nastal, Heiser, & Caravan (2021). Equity in assessment: The grand challenge and exploration of the current landscape
  5. Moreno & Song (2021). Intentional stakeholder engagement that fosters innovation and equity
  6. Singer-Freeman (2021). Grand Challenges in AssessmentNote from the Guest Editor
  7. Tucker & Stanny (2021). Promising failure: Driving innovation by exposing imperfection

Singer-Freeman, K. E., & Robinson, C. (2020). Grand challenges in assessment: Collective issues in need of solutions. NILOA Occasional Paper 47. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment. 1-18.

Singer-Freeman, K. E., & Robinson, C. (2020). Grand challenges for assessment in higher education. Journal of Research and Practice in Assessment. 1-20.

Listen to a podcast about the project here

View a recent talk summarizing the key pillars of our emerging strategic plans here