Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education announced the availability of $350 million in Race to the Top funds to be used for the development of common assessments by consortia of states. The money will be awarded through two separate competitions, a Comprehensive Assessment System grant and a High School Course Assessment grant.
The Comprehensive Assessment Systems grants will provide funding to a consortia of at least 15 states for the development of new assessment systems that measure student knowledge and skills against a common set of college- and career-ready standards in mathematics and English language arts.
The High School Course Assessment grants provide funding to a consortia of at least 5 states for the development of new assessment programs that cover multiple high school courses (which may include courses in core academic subjects and career and technical education courses) and that include a process for certifying the rigor of the assessments in the assessment program and for ensuring that assessments of courses covering similar content have common expectations of rigor. [Emphasis added]. This grant also includes a competitive preference for applications that include CTE:
“To help improve outcomes in career and technical education, we are also establishing a second competitive preference priority for applications that include a high-quality plan to develop, within the grant period and with relevant business community participation and support, assessments for high school courses that comprise a rigorous course of study in career and technical education that is designed to prepare high school students for success on technical certification examinations or for postsecondary education or employment.”
You may recall that the President’s ESEA Blueprint also included plans that would allow states to invest formula funding in CTE assessments.
Grants will be awarded to consortia of states that create assessments that:
- Measure standards that are rigorous, globally competitive, and consistent across the states in the consortium;
- Provide accurate information about what students know and can do—including both students’ achievement of standards and students’ academic growth from year to year;
- Reflect and support good instructional practice so they inspire great teaching;
- Include all students from the outset—including English learners and students with disabilities; and
- Present data to everyone who needs it—students, parents, teachers, administrators, policymakers—in ways that are clear, useful and actionable.
Applications are due on June 23, 2010 and winners will be announced in September. See the Notice Inviting Applications for more information. The Federal Register notice will be published on Friday April 9, 2010.