Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Idea in Practice

Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Idea in Practice

Article excerpt

Common Core State Standards

The Common Core State Standards initiative that formally began in June 2009 grew out of an interest by members of the National Governors Association and the Council for Chief State School Officers to reduce the disparity in academic standards across states. The goal was to identify the most essential skills and knowledge in English language arts and mathematics that students need to succeed in college or in a career. To date, 45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the voluntary standards and are in the initial stages of implementation. New common assessments that align with the standards and meet federal requirements under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) are scheduled for use in the 2014-2015 school year. States have opted to join one or both of the two consortia funded by the Department of Education to develop the new assessment systems - Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), or Smarter Balance Assessment. In addition, two other consortia are developing alternate assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, and to measure English language proficiency.

The PARCC and the Smarter Balance system components will both include summative assessments for each grade and subject. The PARCC summative assessment system will be have two components: performance-based assessments and end-of-the-year assessments. The performance-based assessments will focus on hard to measure standards and will utilize short, medium, and extended tasks, including computer-enhanced simulations. The end-of-the-year assessment in English language arts and mathematics will assess all of the standards for the grade level or course, be taken online during the last fewweeks of the school year, and will be entirely computer scored. The Smarter Balance system will have performance items organized around realworld scenarios and complex tasks, and comprehensive end-of-the-year computer adaptive assessment. The computer adaptive testing component will consist of 40-65 questions per content area and depending upon whether the student answers correctly or not, the item difficulty will adjust up or down, with struggling students getting easier items and excelling students getting more difficult items. Both PARCC and Smarter Balance will offer optional diagnostic (baseline) and midyear assessments designed to inform curriculum, instruction, and professional development. Both assessment systems will have numerous resources that are continually expanding, including sophisticated data reporting and analysis tools for customized reports. …

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