U.S. Education Department announces next step in president’s Testing Action Plan

U.S. Education Department announces next step in president’s Testing Action Plan


Source: U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education today announced the next step in President Obama’s Testing Action Plan — a grant competition to help states get the resources they need to innovate and improve the quality of assessments, enhance reporting for parents, educators and other stakeholders, and reduce redundant and ineffective tests in the state and their districts that builds on the plan released in October that sets forth principles and steps to restore the balance on testing in the nation’s classrooms.

This year, the Department is focusing on working with states to improve the quality of testing items, ensure effective public reporting of scores and results, and reduce unnecessary testing.

“The President’s Testing Action Plan encourages thoughtful approaches to assessments that will help to restore the balance on testing in America’s classrooms by reducing unnecessary assessments while promoting equity and innovation,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “This grant competition is the next step as part of that plan, and will help states and districts improve tests to allow for better depiction of student and school progress so that parents, teachers, and communities have the vital information they need on academic achievement.”

When done well and thoughtfully, annual assessments can provide meaningful information and provide clear, objective and actionable data that can be used to improve academic outcomes and promote equity for educators, families, the public, and students. When done poorly, assessments can provide inaccurate or misleading information and detract from valuable classroom time. This grant competition seeks to improve the quality of state assessments and provide opportunities for innovative solutions to create better, more meaningful tests so that parents and educators will have the information they need, and states and districts can better identify resources to support students and schools.

“President Obama wants to ensure that all the tests our students take are fair, worthwhile, and they are the best possible measures of student achievement,” said Roberto Rodriguez, deputy assistant to the President for education. “He recognizes that too many poor-quality tests have too often taken the joy out of learning for our students, and that we must do more to ensure we are using the best possible measures of how our students are doing. These grants represent an important step forward toward that goal.”

The Department will select winners that demonstrate a focus on collaborating with institutions of higher education, other research institutions, or other organizations to improve the quality, validity and reliability of state academic assessments; gauging student academic achievement using a variety of measures; charting student progress over time; and evaluating student academic achievement through the development of comprehensive academic assessment instruments, such as performance and technology-based tools. Applicants will compete for $8.86 million in grants. Applications are due by Sept. 22, 2016.

Earlier this spring, the Administration negotiated proposed regulations with stakeholders regarding the provision of Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that every state administer a high-quality assessment system that is worth taking and provides meaningful data about student success and equity. Those consensus-based regulations were released for public comment last month. In addition, in July the Administration released proposed regulations to encourage states to create the next generation of assessments through the innovative assessment demonstration pilot.

The Department expects to announce winners of the 2016 Enhanced Assessment Grants competition in January 2017.

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