essa assessments

This resource will help states prep for ESSA next-gen assessments

Site will host a series of educational briefs on the State Readiness Conditions for a successful application

What would learning look like if students could demonstrate knowledge and skills through embedded, performance-based assessments throughout the year rather than a statewide, end-of-year multiple choice exam?

Thanks to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), some states are about to find out. Through ESSA’s Innovative Assessment and Accountability Demonstration Authority, seven states initially will be able to pilot high-quality, student-centered systems of assessments with a group of districts in an attempt to eventually scale the system state-wide.

KnowledgeWorks and the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment (Center for Assessment) have launched a new site to explore the State Readiness Conditions critical to a successful application for the assessment flexibility provided under ESSA.

“We know many states are intrigued by this opportunity but don’t necessarily know where to start,” KnowledgeWorks Vice President of Policy and Advocacy Matt Williams said. “Our goal with this project is to give states the roadmap so this becomes a strong option for redefining their education system.”

The site will include seven briefs, diving deeper into the readiness conditions. Specifically, the briefs will help states and districts identify the critical steps they will need to incorporate in their planning and design processes as they prepare for an application opportunity.

The first three resources are already available.

The first brief provides a high-level overview of the intent and flexibility behind the assessment pilot, while helping state leaders create a unique and compelling state vision for an innovative assessment system that aligns all elements of the teaching and learning system.

The second brief helps states recognize the opportunities and challenges of developing or selecting high-quality assessments in an innovative assessment and accountability system.

The third helps states clarify the definition of comparability and provides in-depth examples of the design features and implementation processes that would support claims of comparability in an innovative assessment and accountability system.

“We have learned a lot about the challenges and opportunities with innovative assessment and accountability systems through our deep work with New Hampshire’s Performance Assessment of Competency Education (PACE) pilot,” said Scott Marion, Executive Director of the Center for Assessment. “These briefs provide an opportunity to share and generalize our experience for states considering pursuing this flexibility.”

The project, which was supported by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, will help states clarify the need and desire for pursuing an innovative pilot application and provide important tools to guide them through the exploratory, planning, design, and implementation stages of this opportunity.

KnowledgeWorks and the Center for Assessment will release the remaining State Readiness Conditions briefs over the course of the summer and early fall. These will be available to states at and will address the following topics:

  • Supporting Educators and Students
  • Evaluation and Continuous Improvement
  • Timeline and Budget
  • Building Capacity and Stakeholder Support

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Laura Ascione

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