Education Week continues to follow reform. In a piece on the competition to develop new testing systems we learn:
Competition opened yesterday for $350 million in federal money to design new ways of assessing what students learn. Rules for the contest make clear that the government wants to leave behind multiple-choice testing more often in favor of essays, multidisciplinary projects, and other more nuanced measures of achievement.
Guaranteed to come to a state near you:
Of the $350 million set aside for new tests, the Education Department plans to award one or two grants of up to $160 million each for “comprehensive assessment systems,” and one $30 million grant that is only for development of end-of-course tests at the high school level. All grants will run for four years.
States must band together in groups, or “consortia,” of 15 or more to apply for the comprehensive-testing grant, with five states designated as “governing,” or leading, partners. Grant applicants for the high school testing program must also have five states designated as “governing,” but face no other minimum group-size requirement.
Tests must be able to measure if students are mastering a “common set of college- and career-ready” academic standards, and those standards must be adopted by the end of 2011. The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, with the support of 48 states, have led a move to write common standards, which are undergoing final revision. Federal officials have used states’ commitment to those standards as incentives in other programs, such as the main Race to the Top competition.
If we put this much time and money into new tests, and pull together all of these public and private players, sooner or later, we will be hearing calls for testing ALL kids. So, I would suggest you read through this piece and familiarize yourself with the process and the players. Read Race to Top Rules Aim to Spur Shifts in Testing.