Where did DCAS come from? Part 2: From MAP to DCAS: Legislation, Task Forces and RFPs
In 2005, 4 districts and 4 charter schools embarked on a Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) pilot to identify the attributes of an assessment system that are most valuable to educators, parents and the public, and that support effective decision making. The evaluations of pilot were very encouraging to everyone, including the leadership of the education committees in the Delaware General Assembly. The findings from the MAP pilot evaluation were the foundationof House Concurrent Resolution #32, sponsored by Senator David Sokola and former Representative Vincent Lofink, and passed by the General Assembly on June 30, 2007 with strong support from both parties. The resolution was a starting point to get the state moving on a new assessment system; it called for the creation of an Assessment Task Force to review our current system (the DSTP) and make recommendations to the Delaware Department of Education about the design of a new system to be known as the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS).
In rolling out its work, the Assessment Task Force, first looked to a report of the MAP pilot group that summarized the findings of the pilot evaluation and provided a framework for a new assessment system that met the intent of HCR #32 and would also put Delaware at the leading edge of state assessment systems. HCR #32 required that the Task Force design a system that made the test cost effective, as useful as possible for educators, delivered online with immediate scoring, and included End of Course exams in high school. The Task Force built upon these ideas through discussions with assessment teams from other states and with national experts, and dealt with a number of interesting and tough topics. You can review the minutes to learn more, but just a few of the big questions raised were how we could get enough technology in schools to move to a computer based test, how we could meet the needs of all students, how we would integrate and score the written portions of the test, and ultimately how we would make sure that all this new information was useful to teachers in every classroom across the state. To make a long story short, in early Summer 2008 there was an initial Request for Information that was posted to let assessment providers know what we were interested in and to learn more about what products were available nationally, and in late summer the Task Force put forward its final recommendations on the design of DCAS. From that design and the information from the RFI, a Request for Proposals was developed during the Fall of 2008 and the Winter of 2009 to begin the process of selecting a provider for DCAS.
While it is hard to say that everyone was happy with every aspect of the final Task Force recommendations and the RFP, they ultimately delivered a design for DCAS that both met the original legislative intent, and pushed/pulled Delaware’s assessment system well beyond what most states are doing.
Next Week… Proposals, More Proposals, and a Plan