RTTT Assessment Applications are In
Although this “race” started with many more entrants and diverging approaches, it’s down to two that have a lot in common, including participating states. Both applicants for the RTTT assessment program — The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and Partners for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) – have included item banks, previously mentioned, in their plans, and both are expected to win portions of the $320M available.
Both consortia will use performance-based tasks to measure higher-order thinking skills; build data systems and item banks; field test in 2012-13 and completely roll out in 2014-15; and use “artificial intelligence” scoring combined with human scoring for audit purposes. But SBAC is focused on formative testing (used for diagnostic purposes and tailoring instruction) and will include computer-adaptive (adjusting to the student’s ability level), while PARCC is focused on summative (evaluative, high-stakes testing) and will not be adaptive. SBAC’s item banks (a secure bank for summative items and a non-secure bank for interim/benchmark assessments) will be available to all states, while PARCC ‘s will be available only to participating states.
While some have commented that this wasn’t much of a competition and the consortia may be “too big to fail” or ripe of single vendor dominance, many stay optimistic that there is room for innovation. Both consortia made the case that various components of their plans will enable competition and innovation. Some have suggested that open platform and shared infrastructure may mitigate these risks.
Delaware is signed onto both consortia. It is an Advisory state to SBAC (with additional rights and responsibilities in terms of voting and policy determinations). All of Delaware’s public Institutions of Higher Education signed onto both consortia, which means they agreed to use high school assessments developed by the consortia to place students into credit-bearing courses. And Delaware included $500,000 in our Race to the Top application for the item bank collaborative but has not released plans about the use of these funds. The hope is that the two RTTT funding sources be used to maximize this opportunity.