BEST PRACTICES FOR STATE ASSESSMENT SYSTEMS, PART I
Summary of a Workshop
Alexandra Beatty, Rapporteur
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
This project was sponsored by the James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy, with additional support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Stupski Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.
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Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2010). Best Practices for State Assessment Systems, Part 1: Summary of a Workshop. A. Beatty, Rapporteur. Committee on Best Practices for State Assessment Systems: Improving Assessment While Revisiting Standards. Center for Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
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COMMITTEE ON BEST PRACTICES FOR STATE ASSESSMENT SYSTEMS: IMPROVING ASSESSMENT WHILE REVISITING STANDARDS
Diana Pullin (Chair),
Lynch School of Education, Boston College
National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing
Center for Assessment, National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment, Dover, New Hampshire
Research and Assessment Division, Minnesota Department of Education
Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania
Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley
Judith A. Koenig, Study Director
Stuart Elliott, Director, Board on Testing and Assessment
Alexandra Beatty, Senior Program Officer
Kelly Duncan, Senior Project Assistant
Rose Neugroschel, Research Assistant
The idea that states might pool their resources and sign on to a common set of education standards has gone from a speculative concept to an emerging reality. Forty-eight states have now signed on to the “Common Core State Standards Initiative.” States are also responding to the opportunity to compete for significant federal education funds through the Race to the Top Assessment Program, which calls on them to make improvements to their standards and assessments. Even before these recent developments, the context for decisions about assessment and accountability was shifting as federal and state policy makers began to take stock of the effects of the No Child Left Behind Act and to consider possibilities for changing it. At the same time, researchers—and a few states—have explored approaches to measuring student learning that are based on theoretical models distinctly different from those that have traditionally governed most state programs. Thus, states are reviewing their approaches to assessment and the role it can and should play in a standards-based accountability system in a complex environment of practical, political, theoretical, and technical questions.
With funding from the James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy, as well as additional support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Stupski Foundation, the National Research Council (NRC) planned two workshops designed to explore some of the possibilities for state assessment systems. The workshops were designed to pull together data and perspectives on the challenges in current assessment and accountability systems and on innovative assessment approaches that offer possibili-
ties for reshaping the expectations educators and policy makers have for this educational tool. The Committee on Best Practices for State Assessment Systems was formed to plan the two workshops. The first workshop, held in December 2009, focused on lessons to be drawn from past experiments with innovative assessments, technical challenges, and the opportunities presented by the current common standards movement; this report describes the presentations and discussions. The second one was held in spring 2010 and provided a more detailed look at possibilities for developing coherent assessment systems that incorporate innovative approaches. This report describes the presentations and discussions from the first workshop; Part II will be available in early summer 2010.
These two workshops were designed to build on two previous ones that examined the possibilities for and questions about common standards for K-12 education. Although a separate committee was responsible for that series (Common Standards for K-12 Education?: Considering the Evidence, Summary of a Workshop Series, National Research Council, 2008), we hope that the body of information produced by all of these workshops will provide useful guidance for policy makers in a very fast-changing educational context. But the broader goal for this two-stage activity is to pull together research and perspectives from diverse sources that can contribute to thoughtful deliberation about longer-term questions and goals.
Many people contributed to the success of this first workshop. We would first like to thank the sponsors for their support of this work, particularly Judith Rizzo and Stephanie Dean with the James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute. The committee also recognizes the scholars who wrote papers and made presentations at the workshop, including Steve Ferrara, CTB McGraw-Hill; Margaret Goertz, University of Pennsylvania; Brian Gong, National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment; Ron Hambleton, University of Massachusetts-Amhert; Laura Hamilton, RAND; Steve Lazer, Educational Testing Service (ETS); Lorraine McDonnell, University of California, Santa Barbara; Lorrie Shepard, University of Colorado; Brian Stecher, RAND; Shawn Stevens, University of Michigan; Laurie Wise, HumRRO; and Rebecca Zwick, ETS and the University of California, Santa Barbara.
We are also grateful to senior staff members of the NRC’s Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education who helped to move this project forward. Michael Feuer, executive director, and Patricia Morison, associate executive director and acting director of the Center for Education, provided support and guidance at key stages in this project. Eugenia Grohman, associate executive director, and Kirsten Sampson Snyder, senior report review officer, offered their knowledge and experience with NRC procedures to guide the report through the NRC review process. Christine McShane, senior editor, provided expert editing assistance, and Yvonne Wise, production editor, adeptly moved this report through the publication process.
The committee also thanks the NRC staff who worked directly on this project. We thank Kelly Duncan, senior project assistant, and Rose Neugroschel, research assistant, both with the Board on Testing and Assessment, for their invaluable assistance in handling the logistical arrangements for the workshop. Their deft organizational skills and careful attention to detail helped to ensure the success of the workshop. We are especially grateful to Judy Koenig, staff director for this workshop project, who played an invaluable role in organizing an informative set of papers and presentations. Judy’s wisdom and political skills made certain that the workshop would be a useful contribution to the public discourse on these important topics. We are also grateful to Stuart Elliott, director, and Alix Beatty, senior program officer, of the Board on Testing and Assessment for their contributions in formulating the workshop design and making it a reality. We particularly wish to recognize Alix Beatty for her superb writing skills and ability to translate workshop presentations and discussions into a coherent, readable report.
Finally, as chair of the committee, I wish to thank the committee members for their dedication and outstanding contributions to this project. They gave generously of their time in planning the workshop and actively participated in workshop presentations and discussions. Their varied experiences and perspectives contributed immeasurably to the success of the project and made them a delightful set of colleagues for this work.
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the Report Review Committee of the NRC. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process. We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Suzanne Lane, Research Methodology Program, School of Education, University of Pittsburgh; Pat Roschewski, Statewide Assessment, Nebraska Department of Education, Lincoln; Theresa Siskind, Division of Accountability, State Department of Education, Columbia, SC; Thomas Toch, Executive Director’s Office, Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington; and Steven L. Wise, Research and Development, Northwest Evaluation Association, Lake Oswego, OR.
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the content of the report, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Edward H. Haertel of the School of Education of Stanford University. Appointed by the NRC, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance
with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the author and the institution.
Diana Pullin, Chair
Committee on Best Practices for State Assessment Systems: Improving Assessment While Revisiting Standards