Published Online: September 29, 2015
Published in Print: September 30, 2015, as Federal Peer Review of States' Assessments Starts Up Again

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Federal Peer Review of States' Assessments Starts Up Again

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States that have adopted new tests, or made significant changes to their old ones, will have to undergo peer review by the U.S. Department of Education within the next four to eight months, department officials said last week.

That timetable came with the issuance of much-awaited federal guidance on the peer-review process. The guidance, published Sept. 25, marks the official re-launch of the peer-review process after nearly three years of suspension. It details the requirements states must meet to undergo the federally mandated reviews by panels of experts.

The document says states must undergo peer review within six months of when they first give a new, or substantially changed, assessment. But Ann Whalen, a special adviser to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, told Education Week that states may choose from three review periods: January, March, or May. They will be expected to submit documentation several weeks in advance, and the department will help states select a period that works for them, she said.

As state officials change their minds about which tests to give, some have worried that they would have to undergo peer review for a test they gave in 2014-15 but don't plan to use in 2015-16. Whalen, who has been delegated the duties of the assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education, said peer reviews won't be needed for such tests.

Vol. 35, Issue 06, Page 4

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