U.S. Department of Education to Host a Series of Public Meetings on Race to the Top Assessment Program Implementation

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The U.S. Department of Education will convene a series of public meetings to provide technical assistance and support to the two consortia of states awarded grants under the Race to the Top Assessment program—the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). The first meeting will be held in Washington, D.C., on April 15 and will bring together an invitational panel of experts along with representatives from PARCC and SBAC to discuss state and local technology infrastructure needed to support the new assessment systems being developed by grantees. The two consortia will discuss their current plans, followed by a dialogue with a small panel of invited experts who will suggest recommendations to strengthen the consortia's plans. The meeting will be open to the public and there will be an opportunity for public comments following the panel discussion.

The $350 million Race to the Top Assessment program, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), is intended to develop new assessment systems aligned with the common core standards. The standards, initiated by governors and chief state school officers, were developed based on the skills students need to graduate from high school ready for success in college and careers and were finalized in summer 2010. Since then, 41 states and the District of Columbia (DC) and have adopted the standards. PARCC and SMARTER Balanced, which together comprise 45 states plus DC, are dedicated to building new comprehensive assessments in English language arts and mathematics in grades 3 through 8 and high school that will be operational as early as the 2014-2015 school year.

"The success of the consortia in developing these next-generation assessment systems is critical to improving the quality of nation's education system," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "The feedback and input we receive from consortia members and recognized experts during these meetings will help ensure we meet our goals."

Funding to support the RTTA public meetings is provided by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Future meetings will be announced as they are confirmed. Topics to be discussed throughout the series of meetings may include using artificial intelligence to score assessments, determining a model of individual student growth, using technology to create innovative ways to measure students' knowledge and abilities, and how to address the needs of students with disabilities and English language learners in the assessments.

The first meeting will be held at the Education Department's Potomac Center Plaza Auditorium, 550 12th St SW, 10th floor from 8 a.m. To 3 p.m. Due to high-level security requirements at this location, all participants must register by April 8, 2011. To register, go to http://www.mikogroup.com/login.aspx. If you have problems accessing the registration site, contact [email protected], 877-645-6477.