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States Can Try Out More Than One Test Under ESSA Pilot, Trump Ed. Dept. Says

By Alyson Klein — December 20, 2018 2 min read
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Attention state officials: Thinking about applying for the Every Student Succeeds Act’s Innovative Assessment pilot? You don’t have to pick just one exam for your test drive—but you do have to end up with a single test in the end.

That’s according to an email sent by U.S. Department of Education staff to the Georgia Department of Education. Georgia, as you’ll recall, is planning to throw its hat in the ring for the next round of the Innovative Assessment pilot. The next round of applications were due this week.

But it is planning to use allow districts, at least initially, to join one of three consortia working to develop formative assessments, which aim to give teachers a real-time picture of what their students know and are able to do.

“I would like to affirm that a State may propose two different models of innovative assessment in their IADA application,” wrote Donald Peasley, the assessment team lead in the department’s office of state support, in a Dec. 4 email to the Georgia department. “If a State chose to propose more than one innovative model, then it should be sure to describe how, over the course of the period of the authority, it would evaluate and select one of those models for possible expansion to Statewide use.”

ESSA allows up to seven states to use local tests in lieu of the state exam through the pilot program, as long as these districts are trying out a system that will eventually go statewide. So far, just two states—Louisiana and New Hampshire—are taking advantage of the flexibility.

The news is a potential game-changer for states who want in on the pilot, but haven’t settled on an assessment for every district to use.

But it’s not clear if this jibes with ESSA regulations written by the Obama administration that have the force of law, said Anne Hyslop, who served in the department under Obama.

Those regulations say the program was intended to “pilot a single innovative assessment system, which—if successful—will replace the current statewide assessment. It was not meant to allow for a State to try out multiple different innovative assessment systems simultaneously.” (Check out page 22 of the regulations for that language).

That conflicts with the department’s response to Georgia, Hyslop said.

Want to learn more about the Every Student Succeeds Act? Here’s some useful information: