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Vol. 45, No. 4
January 18, 2011

Consortium of 31 States Receives Financial Boost

The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) announced last week it has received approval for $15.8 million in supplemental funds from the U.S. Department of Education.  Missouri is a member of the 31-state consortium, which was awarded a four-year, $160 million grant in September to develop a state-of-the-art common assessment system among a majority of states.

With the recent adoption of the Common Core State Standards for mathematics and English language arts by member states, the Washington-based consortium is cooperatively developing resources to meet the new standards, which are designed to improve student readiness for college and careers.

“From a state’s perspective, the implementation of new standards is a highly complex process,” said Jane VanDeZande, director of assessment at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  “Curricula, assessments, professional development, accountability systems, instructional materials, data systems and other elements of state education systems will be affected.”

VanDeZande represents the state on the consortium’s steering committee and takes part in key decisions by the group.

The supplemental budget will allow the consortium to align assessments to the new standards, develop curriculum materials, and create formative processes and tools.  The consortium will convene technical assistance meetings, expand consortium communications and support technology transitions to improve student outcomes in all member states.

The additional funding also will allow the SBAC to participate in a state collaborative sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers. VanDeZande said meetings will begin later this month.  In addition to three in-person meetings throughout the year, collaborative members will conduct much of their work online.

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 mathematics in 2013-14.