Will states finally start sharing test questions?
While concept of shared item banks is not new, it’s gaining momentum and taking shape because of federal Race to the Top investments. And Delaware is playing a leading role. Item banks– that house state test items and can be accessed by multiple states—are attractive because they have the potential to provide cost efficiencies, cross-state comparability, improved item development and enhancement, greater reliability, and a richer pool of rigorous items.
In Delaware, the concept took hold several years ago as the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System was being designed. Several stakeholders wrote a concept paper that gained momentum as states applied for the Race to the Top (Delaware included $500,000 in our Race to the Top application for the item bank collaborative) and began forming multi-state consortia to develop common assessment systems.
And now, the RTTT Assessment Program guidance is right in line with what we have proposed. Delaware has signed onto the two major consortia of states applying for this program, Achieve and Smarter-Balanced, both of which plan to include an item bank collaborative. The National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers are working with both groups to make sure their systems are aligned with the Common Core standards initiative, and the Gates Foundation has indicated that they will commit $354M between 2010 and 2014 to helping states build college and career ready standards, including item bank development.
As a Round 1 RTTT winner with funds and stakeholders committed to this effort, Delaware is positioned to play a leading role in launching this idea…one that shares qualities with many education reforms—it is simple, rational, and overdue, but critical mass seems to be forming.