The Council for Aid to Education, Inc.
Bluefield State University has entered into a four-year partnership with The Council for Aid to Education, Inc. (CAE), a nonprofit developer of performance tasks that measure and improve students’ essential academic and career skills.

The four-year program will help BSU students increase their critical thinking and problem-solving skills

Bluefield State University has entered into a four-year partnership with The Council for Aid to Education, Inc. (CAE), a nonprofit developer of performance tasks that measure and improve students’ essential academic and career skills.  BSU joins Texas A&M as the only institutions of higher education in the United States to participate in this innovative program. 

Beginning with the 2023-24 academic year, Bluefield State University will use CAE’s critical thinking, problem-solving, and written communication assessments, and critical thinking instruction for its students, building skills vital for classroom and workplace success.

“We are proud to collaborate with CAE to develop and advance the essential skills our students need to achieve their personal and professional goals,” said Robin Capehart, BSU President. “Incorporating CAE’s innovative assessments and instruction into our curriculum aligns with Bluefield State University’s purpose—to provide high-quality students the opportunity for a high-quality education in a high-quality environment.”

“CAE is honored to partner with Bluefield State University to provide innovative performance tasks that help measure and improve students’ essential skills,” said Bob Yayac, President and CEO, CAE. “Our research shows that proficiency in critical thinking, problem-solving, and written communication is predictive of positive academic and career outcomes, though rarely explicitly taught or measured. We are thrilled Bluefield State is committed to teaching these skills and supporting long-term student success.”

To establish a baseline, BSU will assess first- and second-year undergraduate students using CAE’s Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA+). These students will then receive critical thinking skills instruction and use performance tasks in the classroom to practice and refine these skills. Additional interim assessments will be used to measure students’ progress. Third- and fourth-year students will first receive the critical thinking skills instruction and then be assessed in the spring of 2024. Those students who reach a mastery level of proficient or higher, based on their performance on the CLA+, can earn an evidence-based micro-credential.

Throughout their academic tenure at BSU, students will progress through the critical thinking curriculum and engage with more challenging performance tasks. They will have the opportunity to practice and apply these skills throughout their four years at BSU and will be regularly measured to help them see their progress and areas to further improve.

CAE’s assessments situate students in real-world scenarios where they must analyze and synthesize data, evaluate options, and recommend and defend a course of action – all critical skills for success in a career. Each student will receive a personalized report and BSU will receive a summary of all of its students’ performance to help inform curriculum and support programs.

To learn more about CAE and CLA+, visit

About CAE
A nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve student outcomes, CAE develops performance-based and custom assessments that authentically measure students’ essential college and career readiness skills and identify opportunities for student growth. CAE’s Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA+) for higher education, College and Career Readiness Assessment (CCRA+) for secondary education, and the new Success Skills Assessment (SSA+) for any level, evaluate the skills educational institutions and employers demand most: critical thinking, problem-solving, and effective written communication. Based on CAE’s research, these skills are predictive of positive college and career outcomes. CAE also partners with its clients to design innovative performance assessments that measure the constructs vital to students, educators, and institutions, including subject area and grade-specific assessments. Since 2002, more than 800,000 students at over 1,300 secondary and higher education institutions globally have completed CAE assessments. To learn more, please visit

About Bluefield State University

Bluefield State University, founded in 1895, is a Historically Black College and University located in Bluefield, West Virginia. BSU is an institution of higher education and is a part of West Virginia’s public education system and a member school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. BSU is institutionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and a dozen academic programs hold program-specific accreditation. BSU’s degree programs are career-focused, designed to prepare graduates for fulfilling and rewarding careers in fields with a bright future in high-demand fields.