31 states band together to create new national academic tests to replace patchwork system

By Donna Gordon Blankinship, AP
Wednesday, June 23, 2010

31 states combine to create new academic tests

SEATTLE — A group of 31 states has banded together to compete for a federal grant to create a series of new national academic tests to replace the current patchwork system.

In the current system, every state gives a different test to its students. In some states, passing the exam is a graduation requirement.

The federal government has said it will award up to two grants of up to $160 million to create a testing system based on the proposed new national academic standards in reading and math.

Washington state is submitting the application on behalf of the group of states.

The coalition’s proposal describes a testing system different from what is happening in most states in a number of ways:

— Testing would be online and given at least twice a year to help teachers and parents track student progress.

— The exams would adapt to measure each student’s abilities. It’s expensive technology that most individual states could not afford on their own.

— Teachers would be given other tools for ongoing, informal assessment to help them figure out if students are learning on a daily basis so they can adjust how they are teaching when necessary.

— The high school test will be designed for 11th grade, while many states currently give it in 10th.

Individual states will still determine whether to use the high school test as a graduation requirement, said Chris Barron, spokesman for the Washington state education department. The test will be designed to be comparable with international exams.

Half of all states currently require graduation tests of some kind.

“These funds will go a long way to building the innovative system we need to help our children succeed,” Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a statement.



SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium: www.k12.wa.us/SMARTER/default.aspx

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