According to Secretary Duncan, the new Race to the Top Assessments (RTTA) are “an absolute game-changer in public education.” Which is why ED is taking the necessary steps to ensure that stakeholders have a voice in the development of the assessments.
At a public forum on June 10 in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, about 70 educators and stakeholders from across the country had a chance to hear about the new assessment systems currently under development, listen to experts, and voice their ideas. The public forum was the second in a series of meetings ED is holding to gain input from the public on the new assessments being developed by the state-led consortia and how to best develop them in order to improve students’ readiness for college and careers.
“It’s integral that we not only measure results, but how students get there” said Douglas Stein, vice president of the Educational Records Bureau, during the feedback portion of the meeting.
Kent Williamson, executive director of the National Council of Teachers of English said that there “is a confidence problem among educators about testing. This process needs to start including teachers – not just in field testing, but in conceptual design.”
Max McGee, president of the Illinois Math and Science Academy noted that we can learn from the successful models of other countries: “Our international competitors have successfully addressed many of the concerns we have with testing. There are models out there.”
The new tests will be aligned with the Common Core Standards, which the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers created, and have been adopted by 43 states. The standards are designed to prepare students for success in college and careers. A total of 45 states plus the District of Columbia are participating in the two assessment consortia: The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). These consortia were awarded $360 million in RTTA grants. The assessments are expected to be rolled out by states in the 2014-15 school year.
Ann Whalen, Director of in Policy and Program Implementation in ED’s Implementation and Support Unit, and Patrick Rooney, team lead for the RTTA program, led the meeting, which was funded in part by a grant from Hewlett. Representatives from PARCC, SBAC, and other experts participated in a panel discussion about automated scoring in the assessments.
The transcript and other forum materials will be posted on the RTTA page, along with information from previous sessions and registration details for future forums. The next public RTTA meeting takes place in Washington, DC on Aug. 10, and will focus on assessing students with disabilities and English language learners.