STATE ASSESSMENT SYSTEMS
Exploring Best Practices and Innovations
Summary of Two Workshops
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 study was supported by a contract between the National Academy of Sciences and 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). State Assessment Systems: Exploring Best Practices and Innovations: Summary of Two Workshops. Alexandra 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.
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
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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, University of California, Los Angeles
Center for Assessment, National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment, Dover, NH
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
Kelly Iverson, 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 initiative.” States are also responding to the opportunity to compete for significant federal education funds through the Race to the Top Assessment Program, which focuses on improvements to 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 law and to consider possible changes to 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 been used in most state programs. Overall, 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, 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. Their goal was to pull together data and perspectives on current assessment and accountability systems and on innovative assessment approaches to assist educators and policy makers. The Committee on Best Practices for State Assessment Systems planned the two workshops. The first workshop, held in December
2009, focused on lessons to be drawn from past experiences with innovative assessments, technical challenges, and the opportunities presented by the current common standards movement. The second workshop, held in April 2010, provided a more detailed look at possibilities for developing coherent assessment systems that incorporate innovative approaches. This report describes the presentations and discussions from both workshops. The agendas for the two workshops are in Appendix A; the lists of participants are in Appendix B. The background papers and videotapes of each workshop are posted on the NRC website: http://www7.nationalacademies.org/bota/Best_Practices_Homepage.html [accessed September 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 those workshops (reported in National Research Council, 2008), we hope that the body of information produced by all of these workshops provide useful guidance for policy makers in a very fast-changing educational context. More broadly, we hope that the research and perspectives presented in this volume contribute to thoughtful deliberation about longer-term questions and goals for education.
Many people contributed to the success of the two workshops. We first thank the sponsors for their support of this work, the James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Stupski Foundation. We particularly thank Judith Rizzo and Stephanie Dean of the Hunt Institute for their commitment to and assistance with the committee’s organization of the workshops.
The committee also thanks the scholars who wrote papers and made presentations at the workshops. For the first workshop, we thank: 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, Amherst; Laura Hamilton, RAND; Joe Krajcik, University of Michigan; Stephen Lazer, Educational Testing Service; 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, Educational Testing Service and the University of California, Santa Barbara.
For the second workshop, we thank: Tony Alpert, Oregon Department of Education; Randy Bennett, Educational Testing Service; Peg Cagle, Los Angeles Unified School District, California Teachers Advisory Council; Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford University; Margaret Heritage, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, University of California, Los Angeles; Karin Hess, National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment; Robert Linquanti, WestEd; Wendy Pickett, Delaware Department of Education; Ed Roeber, Michigan State University; Roy Romer, College Board; Deborah Sigman, California Department of Educa-
tion; Teri Siskind, South Carolina Department of Education; Martha Thurlow, National Center on Education Outcomes; Marc Tucker, National Center for Education and the Economy; Joe Wilhoft, Washington State Department of Education; Gene Wilhoit, Council of Chief State School Officers; Laurie Wise, HumRRO; and Rebecca Zwick, Educational Testing Service 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. The committee also thanks the NRC staff who worked directly on this project: Kelly Duncan, senior project assistant; Kelly Iverson, senior project assistant; and Rose Neugroschel, research assistant, all with the Board on Testing and Assessment (BOTA), provided deft organizational skills and careful attention to detail that helped to ensure the success of both workshops. 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 skills made certain that the workshops would be a useful contribution to the public discourse on these important topics. We are also grateful to Stuart Elliott, BOTA director, and Alix Beatty, BOTA senior program officer, for their contributions in formulating the design of each workshop and making them both 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 thank the committee members for their dedication and outstanding contributions to this project. They gave generously of their time in planning the workshops and participated actively 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 NRC’s Report Review Committee. 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: Ken Draut, Office of Assessment and Accountability, Kentucky Department of Education; Robert L. Linn, Department of Education, University of Colorado; Carissa Miller, Assessment Division, Idaho State Department of Education; John P. Poggio, Department
of Psychology and Research in Education, University of Kansas; and David F. Shaffer, The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, Albany, NY.
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