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The Dover, N.H.-based company that helped develop Kentucky's innovative assessment system has landed another contract.

The Delaware state school board has chosen Advanced Systems in Measurement and Evaluation Inc. to help create student assessments that mirror its state standards for what students should know and be able to do in English, mathematics, science, and social studies. The board approved the initial contract for $1.98 million last month.

Completing the design for the assessment system is expected to take six months. Development of the test activities themselves will take another two years, with use of the exams beginning during the 1997-98 school year.

State officials in Tennessee have questioned a statistical method that attempts to evaluate districts and schools based on the gains students make in academic achievement, rather than on their raw test scores.

In a report released last month, the state office of educational accountability suggested that a team of qualified, outside experts have a chance to examine all aspects of the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System.

The report points to large and unexplained changes in a school's or district's value-added scores from year to year as one issue that needs further exploration. "Such an evaluation," it says, "might lay to rest many of the questions and concerns people have raised about the theoretical and statistical bases of the model."

More information about "The Measure of Education: A Review of the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System" is available from the Tennessee Office of Education Accountability, 1360 Andrew Jackson Building, 500 Deaderick St., Nashville, Tenn. 37243-0268; (615) 532-1111.

Vermont may soon be able to store its portfolios of student work in digital form, thanks to a $2 million grant from the International Business Machines Corporation.

The new technology would enable teachers to refine portfolio-scoring techniques by sharing student work and exchanging evaluation comments on-line. The technology could also help solve the storage issues associated with student portfolios. I.B.M. will also help Vermont develop software that links the digital portfolios to a database of curriculum and evaluation activities. The grant is part of I.B.M.'s Reinventing Education program, which helps states and school districts explore ways technology can reform schools.

--Lynn Olson

Vol. 14, Issue 33

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