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Assessment Consortia

**Tamayo, J. (2010, December). Assessment 2.0: “Next generation” comprehensive assessment systems. Washington, D.C.: The Aspen Institute. Available at

This brief compares the plans for the two assessment systems aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) proposed by winners of the Race to the Top Comprehensive Assessment Systems Competition—the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the SMARTER Balanced As­sessment Consortium (SBAC). The side-by-side analysis highlights the similarities and differences in the governance and membership, assessment design and descriptions, technology and capacity requirements, and implementation timelines of the assessment consortia. The author also provides key issues for leaders to consider to effectively implement the assessments by the 2014-15 school year, such as the technology infrastructure needed to transition to the new computer-based assessments and mechanisms to ensure
collaboration and communication between states, districts, and schools.

**Fensterwald, J. (2011, June). California switches test consortiums [Web log]. Available at

California Department of Education. (2011, June). State education leaders jointly announce California’s role in new multistate consortium formed to develop new generation of assessments [press release]. Available at

These two documents document the recent announcement that California joined SBAC as a governing state. The first piece, a blog entry from Thoughts on Public Education, indicates that, becoming a governing state precludes participation in PARCC but also gives the state an active role in SBAC decision-making. The blog entry also identifies the policy implications of California’s decision, including the need for complex computer-adaptive testing technology and collaboration with teachers throughout all phases of test development and implementation. The second document is the official press release from the California Department of Education announcing the state’s decision to join SBAC on June 9, 2011.

**SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium. (n.d.). A summary of core components. Washington, D.C.: Author. Available at

**Center for K-12 Assessment & Performance Management. (2011, June). The SBAC supplemental application. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service (ETS). Available at

SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium. (2011, April). Quarterly report. Washington, D.C.: Author. Available at

These three documents summarize the main components of SBAC’s proposed assessment system. The first document, prepared by SBAC, highlights their planned summative and interim assessments intended to inform instruction and provide an accurate measure of each student’s growth toward career and college readiness. The second document, prepared by ETS, provides information on the additional activities SBAC has recently added through a supplemental grant awarded to both assessment consortia, outlining anticipated activities to support states’ and districts’ transition to the CCSS and their new assessment system. The third document, also prepared by SBAC, summarizes the consortium’s accomplishments through April 2011 and the priorities in the coming months for the consortium’s work.

PARCC. (2011, June). Career and College Readiness for the Next Generation. Washington, D.C.: Achieve, Inc. Available at

PARCC. (2011, March). Supporting implementation of new standards and assessments. Washington, D.C.: Achieve, Inc. Available at

Center for K-12 Assessment & Performance Management. (2011, June). The PARCC supplemental application. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service (ETS). Available at

These three documents summarize the main components of PARCC’s proposed assessment system. The first fact sheet outlines PARCC’s proposed assessment system, including the governing and participating states, the overall vision, and the timeline. The second piece, prepared by ETS, summarizes PARCC’s specific plans for the recent supplemental grant including the development of professional development and instructional tools. The third document summarizes PARCC’s implementation plan with a focus on how standards and assessments can reach the classroom through the strategic development of instructional tools, multi-state collaboration, and professional development programs.

Sparks, S. (2011, April 12). Experts see hurdles ahead for common core tests. Education Week, 30(28). Available at

This article highlights challenges associated with the “next-generation” assessments, aligned to the CCSS, including whether the budget and timeline of the assessment consortia will allow for the pilot testing needed, whether the assessments will be able to deliver on their intended use in test-based teacher evaluations, whether the necessary technology will be available in schools to roll out these assessments, and finally, whether states can sustain the costs of these assessments over the long term.

Gewertz, C. (2011, April 19). Common assessments a test for schools' technology. Education Week, 29(30). Available at

This article summarizes technology challenges, as discussed at a Congressional hearing, that states and districts might face when implementing assessments from the two consortia by the 2014-15 school year. While the consortia plan to work together to consider issues around districts’ capacity to handle large-scale computer-based testing, anticipated challenges may include infrastructure issues—such as slow internet routers and computer servers and gaps in data security—as well as human capacity issues and the need for better technical support systems.

**This document is considered a priority reading.