We are in the midst of an important shift in K-12 education. Nearly all states are beginning to implement college- and career-ready content standards and are in the process of developing new aligned assessment systems to measure whether their students have the knowledge and critical skills they need to be ready for tomorrow’s jobs. These new systems are in direct response to educators and parents asking for assessments that are more than just “bubble tests,” and provide better information to inform and improve teaching and learning in our classrooms. Do you have ideas for how ED should evaluate states’ assessment systems? Do you have thoughts on how we should support states during a time of transition to new, higher standards? We are asking for your input between now and September 30, 2013.
As required by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), ED reviews and approves certain state assessments through panels of peer experts. More information about ED’s process is available here. This peer review process has been instrumental in helping states improve the reliability of their assessment systems and the accessibility of these assessments for all students, including students with disabilities and English learners. But in order to keep up with the new and more robust demands of what high-quality assessments need to be able to do, on December 21, 2012, ED suspended this peer review process in order to update it to align with the vision of what high-quality assessments should be. Specifically, in ESEA Flexibility, ED defined a high-quality assessment as one “that is valid, reliable, and fair for its intended purposes; and measures student knowledge and skills against college- and career-ready standards in a way that:
- covers the full range of those standards, including standards against which student achievement has traditionally been difficult to measure;
- as appropriate, elicits complex student demonstrations or applications of knowledge and skills;
- provides an accurate measure of student achievement across the full performance continuum, including for high- and low-achieving students;
- provides an accurate measure of student growth over a full academic year or course;
- produces student achievement data and student growth data that can be used to determine whether individual students are college and career ready or on track to being college and career ready;
- assesses all students, including English Learners and students with disabilities;
- provides for alternate assessments based on grade-level academic achievement standards or alternate assessments based on alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, consistent with 34 C.F.R. § 200.6(a)(2); and
- produces data, including student achievement data and student growth data, that can be used to inform: determinations of school effectiveness for purposes of accountability under Title I; determinations of individual principal and teacher effectiveness for purposes of evaluation; determinations of principal and teacher professional development and support needs; and teaching, learning, and program improvement.”
ED is asking the public, and in particular experts in assessment, to respond to the following questions related to our peer review of state assessment systems. This is the first step in our process to review and revise our system to evaluate state tests.
- What types of evidence can and should a state provide to demonstrate that its system meets the elements of a high-quality assessment system? What benchmarks or rubrics can ED establish to help evaluate the evidence submitted by states? What are best and most-promising practices that ED should consider with respect to the topics below for providing guidance to states in documenting the quality of their assessment systems and to peers regarding how to evaluate that documentation?
- Alignment of tests and items with college- and career-ready content standards.
- Measuring higher-order thinking skills.
- Demonstrating the validity of assessment results for their intended purposes, both for the first operational administration of the assessments and on-going evaluations.
- Accessibility for English learners and students with disabilities.
- Measuring performance across the full performance continuum, including high- and low-achieving students.
- Measuring individual student growth.
- College- and career-readiness and academic achievement standards-setting.
- Computer-adaptive assessment algorithms.
- Additional specific documentation necessary to confirm the quality of alternate assessments based on alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.
- Test security and integrity, including maintaining the security of computer-administered assessments.
- Any additional aspects of a high-quality assessment aligned to college- and career-ready standards that ED should include in its review of state assessment systems.
- ED is considering how to improve its process to conduct assessment peer reviews.
- Are there components of ED’s current process that can or should be revised or are there aspects ED should add?
- Documenting the technical quality of assessments is an on-going activity (e.g., documenting that the assessment results provide valid inferences of college- and career-readiness likely requires more than one year of operational data or longitudinal studies). How should ED consider the states’ on-going assessment development and documentation of the quality of its assessment system? Should ED establish criteria at various points in time of the assessment lifecycle?
- Are there models or best practices in conducting peer reviews that are applicable and practical for state assessment systems?
- How can ED use the peer review process to support states as they continually improve their assessment systems over time?
We encourage all interested parties to submit opinions, ideas, suggestions, and comments pertaining to how best to measure the quality of educational assessments. Respondents are encouraged, but not required, to address all of the questions above. All responses should be emailed to ESEA.Assessment@ed.gov by September 30, 2013. Please use the subject “Title I Peer Review” in your email. Please clearly identify the question(s) to which you are responding.
The fine print: Responses must be related to Title I assessment peer review, should be as specific as possible, and, as appropriate, be supported by data/relevant research. All opinions, ideas, suggestions and comments are considered informal input. ED will not respond to individual comments or emails, will publicly display all those that are appropriate, and may or may not reflect input provided in the policies and requirements of the Department. If you include a link to additional information in your response, please ensure that the linked-to information is accessible to all individuals, including individuals with disabilities. This is a moderated site. That means all responses will be reviewed before posting. Additionally, please do not include links to advertisements or endorsements; we will delete all such links before posting your comment.
ED intends to post all responsive submissions in a timely manner. We reserve the right not to post comments that are unrelated to this request, are inconsistent with ED’s Web site policies, are advertisements or endorsements, or are otherwise inappropriate. To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information such as Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. For more information, please be sure to read the comments policy.
Thank you for helping ED consider how to better evaluate and support states as they develop the next generation of assessment systems.