In the end, it came down to three.
Yes, the Race to the Top assessment applications are in, and only three consortia of states applied to design testing systems.
You might remember there are two chunks of money dangling out there as part of this competition: $320 million for comprehensive assessment systems and $30 million for high school end-of-course exams.
In the first category, we have a competition between two groups, even though the two consortia’s ideas overlap significantly. The applicants are the two big groups we’ve been telling you about for what seems like years already. (If you are new to this game, check our stories here and here, and blog posts here and here.)
(Weird aside: It’s true that a third group submitted an application in this category: they’re a Texas-based outfit called Free to Be. But since they list no states as members of a consortium, they’re sorta breaking the rules of the competition, and, uhhh, sorta can’t get any money. Apparently they’re competing for money in the i3 competition as well.)
In the second RTT assessment category, there isn’t really a competition, unless your definition of a competition extends to one group either winning or losing. A group of state directors of career and tech ed considered applying, but didn’t, and the College Board and ACT, which also both explored the possibility, did likewise. So the National Center on Education and the Economy’s ideas are the only ones vying for the feds’ attention in the high school exam category. For better or worse, depending on your view on these things, this group will either get the $30 million or no one will get it.
UPDATE: I asked the department for its thoughts on the number of competitors, and spokeswoman Sandra Abrevaya sent this response: ""We are thrilled that 44 states and D.C. are participating.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.