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Vol. 44, No. 53

June 24, 2010

Missouri Has Joined 31-state Consortium on Student Testing

“SMARTER Balanced Consortium” Submits Grant Proposal

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is now part of a multi-state consortium which is seeking a $160 million federal grant to design the next generation of tests for students in public schools.

The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), formed in December 2009, submitted its application yesterday to the U.S. Department of Education on behalf of its members.  The SBAC is housed at the Washington Office of Public Instruction.  No more than two grants will be awarded through the Race to the Top assessment competition.  

The assessment system being designed by SBAC is based on the Common Core State Standards, which were recently adopted by the Missouri State Board of Education. 

“The goal of the consortium is to create state-of-the-art, online exams that will provide more useful information to students, teachers, parents and school officials about student progress.  The consortium will be able to design a much stronger system of assessments and teacher resources than any single state could afford to develop,” said Michael Muenks, assistant commissioner of the Office of College and Career Readiness.

Missouri has been a member of the SBAC since April and is one of the “governing” states for the 31-state consortium.  This means that Missouri has committed to support the SBAC proposal, has a representative on the steering committee and takes part in key decisions by the group, Muenks said.

“We believe the SBAC proposal holds great promise for all of the participating states and will enable us to design next-generation assessments that more effectively meet the needs of students, teachers and schools,” Muenks said.

Missouri education officials currently plan to field-test elements of the new assessment system during the 2012-13 school year and introduce operational exams for English language arts and math in 2013-14. 

According to the SBAC, teachers in participating states will be involved at all stages of item-writing and test development.  The online system will be designed to provide accurate assessment information on the academic progress of all students, including those with disabilities and English-language learners.  It will include: 

  • Required “summative exams,” to be offered twice each school year.

  • Optional “formative” or “benchmark” exams to provide periodic assessment of progress.

  • A variety of tools to help teachers use informal, regular assessments of student progress.

The U.S. Department of Education is expected to announce the grant awards in September.