American Public University System Expands Assessment Program

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Dr. Jennifer Stephens Takes Helm as Dean of Assessment

In an effort to improve student learning and provide stakeholders with greater access to data, American Public University System (APUS) has enhanced its survey and assessment processes. APUS is an accredited online university system with more than 30,000 adult learners studying in 50 states and more than 100 countries.

Under Dr. Jennifer Stephen's leadership, APUS is participating as a charter member of the Transparency by Design initiative, a new initiative developed by the Presidents' Forum, Excelsior College. The initiative's charter members are comprised of fourteen regionally accredited, adult-serving, higher education institutions. The initiative provides a comprehensive action plan to elevate accountability and transparency in higher education by providing access to data that allows adult students to make informed decisions about their education.

As a participant in the initiative, APUS has committed to the following best practices in higher education to address the needs of adult learners. The principles include consistency of mission, accountability to stakeholders, responsiveness, curriculum development and revision, curriculum delivery, interaction and student engagement, faculty qualifications and training, faculty and student evaluation, learning outcomes assessment, institutional integrity, disclosure of information, and availability of services. These benchmarks of quality define parameters of excellence, promote transparency, foster dialogue to strengthen and improve quality, and facilitate the continuous improvement of adult higher education programs delivered at a distance.

Participating institutions will issue Transparency by Design reports in the first quarter of each year, starting in 2009. The reports will include comprehensive data for prospective students to asses how well schools will prepare them for their professional pursuits, including demographic data, completion rates, costs, student engagement, and knowledge and skills learned.

APUS is also a member of the Higher Learning Commission's Assessment Academy and participated in the Assessment Academy Round Table and the Academy Learning Exchange and Showcase at the recent Higher Learning Commission annual meeting. APUS is one of the first institutions in West Virginia to become a part of the Academy.

"I am pleased to continue my work here at APUS," said Stephens. "It is important that we keep our online community of students engaged and improve their academic experience. The work that we are doing, through the Assessment Academy and Transparency by Design, is important to ensuring our student's success."

Formerly the Director of the Center for Teaching, Learning and Assessment at APUS, Dr. Jennifer Stephens has taken helm as Dean of Assessment. Stephens holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with an emphasis on learning, development, and instruction from Texas A&M University and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of North Texas. Jennifer most recently worked with the Accelerated School Project at Stanford University, developing an outcome reporting system for the school reform organization. She comes to APUS with a background in educational evaluation and has published and presented at conferences in the areas of education, technology, assessment, and school reform. She has taught primary and higher education students, and has consulted with various school districts, state education agencies, and school reform organizations.

Up next for her department is participation in the release of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) Annual Report 2008, which surveys undergraduate students on how they spend their time and what they gain from attending college. APUS was one of 774 colleges and universities that participated in the spring 2008 administration of the survey by Indiana University's Center for Postsecondary Research in cooperation with the Indiana University Center for Survey Research.

About Public University System
American Public University System includes American Public University and American Military University and educates more than 30,000 adult learners worldwide. APUS's relevant curriculum, affordability and flexibility allows working adults to pursue degrees that will help them advance in a variety of career fields, including business, information technology, education and management. APUS also provides specialized education in homeland security, national security and emergency and disaster management. A university book grant provides textbooks at no cost for eligible undergraduate students. American Public University System is a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Public Education, Inc. (NASDAQ:APEI). For more information, please visit

Renée Hockaday, American Public University System
703.334.3868, rhockaday @

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