The state-led effort to design new assessments aligned with college and career-ready standards moves into year two with an ambitious agenda that includes releasing sample questions and piloting the new assessments in select schools in the spring of 2013. The new assessments are being developed by two consortia made of 45 states and the District of Columbia with approximately $350 million in federal Race to the Top funds.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that the new assessments will be, “an absolute game changer in public education, but we need to get it right. We need input from teachers and the public and we need to make sure that the tests provide parents and teachers with the information they need to focus and personalize instruction for all children.”
Reports released today by the U.S. Department of Education outline year-one activity by the two consortia – the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced). The effort to develop assessments across states at this scale is unprecedented and presented considerable challenges for each consortia in year one.
PARCC’s first-year work included strong contributions from higher education partners to help define college- and career-ready standards. PARCC also brought together state and district leaders to collaborate on transitioning to the new standards and assessment system.
“In just over a year, the 24 states in PARCC have made tremendous progress toward developing an innovative assessment system to make sure students are on a pathway to college and career readiness,” said Massachusetts Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester, who chairs the PARCC Governing Board. “Drawing on the leadership from the states in our consortium, the PARCC assessment promises to be a tool to improve student achievement, returning information quickly to drive instruction and delivering useful information to parents, while also providing data on the effectiveness of our education systems.”
In the first year, the Smarter Balanced consortium focused on helping states and districts understand new content standards and integrating technology into its assessment system.
“Smarter Balanced is working with our member states to create a balanced assessment system that gives parents, teachers and students information and tools to improve teaching and learning,” said Executive Director of the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium Joe Willhoft, Ph.D. “Assessments that are aligned to college- and career-ready standards are critical to preparing all students for success in the global economy.”
Once the new assessment systems are completed, participating states will use them in place of existing statewide assessments. Non-participating states are free to use them as well. Currently, they are on track for implementation in the 2014-15 school year.