Using $1.6 million in grants, the PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessment consortia will work with the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association to give teachers a central role in designing instructional resources for the common standards and tests.
The announcement marks one more step into a new area for the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust: common standards. It also marks the New York City-based philanthropy’s latest move to take it from regional to national grantmaking.
The two new grants will bring teachers together, through their national unions, to work with consortium designers to create instructional and diagnostic resources, such as sample lessons, that will be housed in each group’s online library. The grants will also help build networks of teachers who are experts in the assessment systems and can serve as trainers for their colleagues, said Rachel Norman, a Helmsley program officer overseeing the project.
The unions have previously drawn on their membership to channel input into common-standards work. After initial standards-writing panels excluded teachers, the unions prevailed on the Common Core State Standards’ leaders to add classroom educators to those committees. The unions also have been sharing their views with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, known as PARCC, and Smarter Balanced.
There are tensions, however, since the unions are fundamentally uneasy about the uses of the tests.
A version of this article appeared in the January 15, 2014 edition of Education Week as Unions, Testing Consortia Team Up on Common-Core Resources