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Meeting of the Board of Regents | April 2010

Thursday, April 1, 2010 - 10:00am

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Standards Work Group


John B. King, Jr.


Invitation for New York to be a Governing State in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career


April 15, 2010







Issue for Decision

Should the Board of Regents accept the invitation for New York to be a Governing State in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (the “Partnership”), one of two major consortia that will be competing for $320 million in the Race to the Top Comprehensive Assessment System grant program? 

Proposed Handling

This question will come before the Standards Work Group for action at its April 2010 meeting.

Background Information

The Race to the Top Comprehensive Assessment Systems grant program will provide consortia of states with an unprecedented opportunity to develop, over a four‑year period, assessment systems based on the Common Core Standards in mathematics and English language arts.  Applications for this grant program are due June 23, 2010.  The U.S. Department of Education is planning to make up to two awards of $160 million each. 

There are three tiers of participation in the Partnership:  “Participating States” have the lowest level of commitment and influence.  “Design Team States” are those that help to write the application.  As a “Governing State,” New York is one of a handful of states that will play a leading role in making major policy decisions and providing overall direction to the application-writing team.  Under the federal grant program guidelines, a Governing State may be a member of only one consortium applying for a grant and is committed to using the assessment system developed by that consortium.  Due to the short timeline for development of the application by the June 23, 2010 deadline, a formal commitment by the Board of Regents is required at the April Regents meeting in order for New York State to play a governing role in the consortium. 

New York’s partners in leading the consortium will include Massachusetts, Florida, Tennessee, and Louisiana—states that have been recognized for multiple areas of education reform, including assessments and accountability.  As the entity charged by the Board of Regents to implement New York’s student assessment system, the New York State Education Department will represent the state in the consortium.  This outstanding group of Governing States has agreed to work together to set the direction for the next generation of critical work on standards, assessments, and curriculum.

States in the Partnership are committed to developing an innovative system of summative assessments that both measures the depth and breadth of the concepts and skills represented in the Common Core Standards, and is sustainable in the long term given the realities of limited resources available for ongoing test administration.  Though development efforts will focus on summative measures, a comprehensive assessment system design will be used to ensure coherence among summative, interim, and formative assessments. (The other major consortium, known as the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and led by Maine, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Nebraska, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Missouri, is planning to develop multiple types of assessments and scoring processes, and it is not known which types will have priority should budgetary limitations require that the scope be narrowed.)

The Partnership’s assessment system will primarily be designed to measure and document students’ college- and career-readiness at the end of high school and to measure students’ progress toward this target.  In addition, the system will be designed to support valid assessment of student longitudinal growth and to be used for multiple accountability purposes, including decisions about promotion and graduation for individual students; teacher and leader evaluations; and school accountability determinations.  To the extent possible, the assessment results will be comparable across states and internationally benchmarked. 

The Partnership is committed to ensuring that the assessments will serve as a signal for good instructional practices.  Thus, the assessments will include open-response items and classroom-embedded performance tasks, including robust writing assessments.  In consideration of cost, scoring time, and test administration time, the Partnership will work to develop item types that require higher-order thinking skills but that can be scored via computer.  The Partnership will develop model curriculum frameworks in grades K-8 and model course syllabi for high school that illustrate instructional options for educators targeting the Common Core Standards, the common assessments, and embedded performance tasks.

The assessments will be inclusive for students with disabilities and English language learners.  The assessment system will be available for use by the spring of 2014 in both computer and paper formats, but by the spring of 2016, the aim is to have paper formats used for testing accommodations only.

In developing the application, the Partnership will work with two organizations that have a track record of success with state assessment consortia:  Achieve, Inc. and the Center for Assessment.  Michael Cohen, who is representing Achieve in this project, also played an instrumental role in developing the Common Core Standards and has made special reference to the important standards work led by Regent Saul Cohen.


It is recommended that the Board of Regents accept the invitation for New York to be a Governing State in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career.