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States Cooperate To Improve Assessment

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While Stanford University's Teacher Assessment Project proceeds with its work, a growing consortium, now numbering 32 states, is working to improve the assessments used to license and evaluate teachers at the state level.

The new Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium is funded with $50,500 from the National Governors' Association, with additional support from the state education agencies of Connecticut and California, which helped launch it.

One of its main goals is to ensure that state licensing programs are compatible with plans for voluntary teacher certification by the new National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

The other two charter members of the consortium are the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and the Teacher Assessment Project, which is an ex officio member.

"This is an opportunity for people working closely with teacher-assessment and -support programs in states to come together to discuss what they're doing,'' says Joan E. Talbert, coordinator of the project. "It's really providing a forum for states to reflect on their own practices, to look ahead together to the board developments, and to provide support for one another in the context of change.''

The consortium plans to publish a newsletter, hold seminars for interested state agencies, and establish a clearinghouse to share information.

In addition, California and Connecticut are collaborating on research regarding performance assessments for beginning teachers. Ms. Talbert hopes that other states will also use the consortium for joint projects over time. For now, the other states, which are serving as "associates'' to the consortium, only have to pay a fee for the seminars they attend.

At the end of the year, their participation in the consortium is expected to become more formal.

A number of individuals, educational testing organizations, and professional organizations are also participating in the consortium.

The following states have become "associate'' members: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.--L.O.

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