In the Market for an Assessment?

Friday, September 6, 2013 -- Nyla Benjamin

With a majority of states ridding themselves of their previous English language arts and mathematics standards in favor of more rigorous college and career ready standards, the need for new statewide assessments has become a major priority.  Never before since their inception have statewide assessments been at the forefront of education, political, and media attention than they are now.  Across the country education workshops, legislative discussions, and media headlines are focusing on the tests schools use to assess student performance.  This is no surprise as state assessments are approximately a $1.7 billion business nationally and these assessments are increasingly used for more than just determining student achievement. Some states also tie them to teacher and principal evaluations, teacher salaries, funding, and school grades. 

Let’s look at some of the popular options currently available to states:

1. Assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards that were developed through the federally funded Race to the Top grant:

  • Smarter Balanced: A common set of assessments in English language arts/literacy and mathematics for grades 3 - 8 and 11, delivered via a computer-based adaptive format that modifies questions on the test based on the responses provided by the student.  A paper/pencil option will also be provided for three years as states upgrade their technology readiness to administer online assessments. The estimated cost of the Smarter Balanced summative assessment is $22.50 per student.
  • Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC): A common set of assessments in English language arts/literacy and mathematics delivered via a computer-based assessment using a fixed set of items and tasks.  A paper/pencil option will be provided for one year as states upgrade their technology readiness to implement online assessments. The estimated cost of the PARCC summative assessment is $29.50 per student.

2. State Customized Assessments

  • States can design their own assessments and have them developed by a contractor.  These states will have increased flexibility with regard to cost, technology requirements, test taking time, etc.

3. Shelf /Semi-Shelf Products

  • Assessment developers are moving forward with product offerings that will be available off the shelf or in a semi-customizable format to meet specific state requirements.

Although most states have already begun implementation efforts with their assessment of choice, several have recently changed course citing concerns including: cost, test-taking time, and overreach of the federal government in state education policy decisions.  Those states are still in the market for an assessment.

If you are looking for an assessment to help you in any of the areas discussed, Edmentum has a full suite of assessment solutions including diagnostic and formative assessments that can integrate with your curriculum, monitor student progress and engage students through a personalized and effective learning environment. Click here to learn more.

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