New Vision for Common Core Assessments?

business-15822_1280A manifesto appeared in support of a “new” approach to testing signed by a seemingly random list of educators and instructional materials developers.  It is frankly a little bizarre.  So, I looked up the federal grants they mention which support assessment.  Now, I understand why this collection of people is trying to build support. It is the federal department of education’s response to the Common Core testing fiasco.

I am not really opposed to at least some testing, especially if it is used to help students and teachers improve instruction.  When I used to be involved in testing, I was intrigued by the possibility of using technology for innovative learning–especially simulations and critical thinking.   These end of year marathons for which our district began to prepare 4o days in advance are, however, something else.

This new vision puts an emphasis on individualized learning.  Every student moves at his/her own pace.  Computerized testing periodically provides feedback.  This means cumulative data records must be kept on each child.

It troubles me. Children learn from each other.  Teachers facilitate that learning.  Computers are machines, not teachers.  Yet, I want computers in the classrooms.  I want children to have easy access to information, simulations, complex problems and alternative solutions.

We can’t be afraid of the unknown.  We have to experiment–yes, even with our children.  We cannot move blindly forward either.  Technology is creating change all around us that we all recognize.  Our phones are attached to us and too often control us.  Their convenience is addictive but not necessarily productive.  I am sitting here at 7:30 in the morning with my computer on my lap.  I should be outside!  Who is in control, me or the machine?

So here is the manifesto.  We will be OK as long as we are watching, thinking and in control.


Flexibility, Innovation Must Guide Implementation of New State Assessment Systems to Measure Mastery of Common Core State Standards

In an era in which information and learning know no geographic bounds, there is an unprecedented opportunity to utilize digital learning to transform our nation’s education system so that each child can be successful, realize his or her fullest potential, and pursue his or her most daring dreams. Indeed, it is the sum of these dreams that represents the future standing and economic competitiveness of this great nation.

As states across the country move forward in implementing the common core state standards, there is a chance to create the infrastructure for innovation, improved learning outcomes, and cost-savings at scale.

Part of this infrastructure will include the adoption of next-generation assessments. If done correctly, the shift from pencil-and-paper to online assessments will build upon this opportunity to transform the nation’s education system and provide a platform for new approaches to learning and schooling, not just to testing.

If done incorrectly, however, the adoption of these assessments also has the potential to lock our education system—for another decade or more—into its current factory-era model that has proved so inadequate to the task of meeting our nation’s education goals in the 21st century.

States and the assessment consortia designing the next generation of assessments are doing nothing less than laying the foundation for the next era of American public education. It is imperative that they architect a model of education that will withstand the test of time.

We, the undersigned, believe that states and the assessment consortia must move with all haste to deploy an assessment system that not only explicitly accommodates emerging models of innovative schooling, but also supports them. Some schools across the country are already moving in this innovative direction, as they shift from focusing on obsolete inputs of the past like seat time to creating new, blended schooling models that combine the best of face-to-face and online learning.* An assessment framework stuck in the factory-era relic of its predecessors would not only be orthogonal to innovative efforts like these, but could also serve to stifle further innovation—literally cutting it off at the knees.

Given the importance of this opportunity, we make three recommendations to the states and the assessment consortia.

1. Create a dynamic testing ecosystem, not another one-size-fits-all assessment. Rather than a single common test, the federal-funded opportunity offers the potential to create a vibrant assessment ecosystem comprised of multiple platforms, open-item banks, and multiple testing options that encourages deeper learning. An assessment ecosystem, rather than a single common test, will give states the flexibility to take advantage of innovations in digital learning over time while maintaining interoperability and comparability. For instance, assessments can be aligned and trusted through the use of a common matrix-based assessment, which can be used to set the curve. NAEP or PISA is an example of a matrix-based assessment; because they are broad and deep, no one student takes the whole test. Instead, several students each take a fraction of it—and a few thousand test-takers can give an accurate picture of the results in a state.

2. Plan for innovation. Interest in assessment systems, not just identical year-end or end-of-course tests, is a productive direction. So-called “interim” and “through-course assessments” can be beneficial in compiling a number of achievement data points. These assessments will be most useful, however, when integrated as part of an aligned learning system. With the shift from print to digital instructional materials, an increasing number of students will benefit from the instant feedback of content-embedded and real-time, adaptive assessment. Over time, a growing number of districts and networks will use instructional systems that produce a substantial body of achievement data tied to instructional experiences. Overlaying common interim or through-course assessments on these systems must not be redundant or, even worse, misaligned.

Next-generation assessment systems should instead be designed to be interoperable and flexible to ensure that states, districts, and schools can implement complementary alternative and aligned in-course assessments and instructional materials.

3. Adopt assessment systems that support transformation. Education is shifting from print to digital curricula and from teaching age-cohorts to personalized learning. New assessment systems should support rather than act as a barrier to competency-based learning—in which time is variable but learning is constant for each student—and systems should shift to focus on measuring and rewarding individual student growth instead of fixed inputs. Consequently, next-generation assessments must be made available on demand when a student completes a unit or course and not at a pre-determined time on the school calendar.


Curt Allen, President and CEO, Agilix Labs, Inc.

Andres A. Alonso, CEO, Baltimore City Public Schools

Frank E. Baxter, Chairman Emeritus, Jefferies & Company

Marie M. Bjerede, Founder e-Mergents, LLC

Kelly Burnette, NBCT, FL State Teacher of the Year Finalist 2011

Idit Harel Caperton, President & Founder, World Wide Workshop

Samuel Casey Carter, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Jaime Casap, Senior Education Manager, Google

Stacey Childress, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Clayton M. Christensen, Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

Susan J. Colby, CEO, Stupski Foundation

Allan Collins, Professor Emeritus of Learning Sciences, Northwestern University

Gunnar Counselman, Founder and CEO, Fidelis

Chris Dede, Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies, Harvard University

Beth Dozoretz, Unleashing Education Innovation Group

Robert Dunlevy, State Board of Education, West Virginia

Mark Edwards, Superintendent, Mooresville, NC

MaryEllen Elia, Superintendent, Hillsborough County Public Schools, FL

Julie Evans, CEO, Project Tomorrow

Rose Fernandez, Executive Director, National Parent Network for Online Learning

Michael M. Flood, Vice President Education Markets, Kajeet

Luis de la Fuente, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation

Stephanie Saroki de Garcia, Seton Education Partners

Roy Gilbert, Chief Executive Officer, Grockit

Jessica Goldfin, Special Assistant to the President, Knight Foundation

Thomas Greaves, Chairman, The Greaves Group, LLC

Michael Green, Member, State Board of Education, West Virginia

Michael E. Hanson, Superintendent of Schools, Fresno Unified School District

Scott Hartl, President and CEO, Expeditionary Learning

Nelson Heller, Founder, The Heller Reports and EdNET Conference

Alex Hernandez, Partner, Charter School Growth Fund

Michael B. Horn, Executive Director, Innosight Institute

Gisele Huff, Executive Director, Jaquelin Hume Foundation

Robert Iskander, Founder & CEO, EduTone Corporation

Todd Kern, Principal, 2Revolutions LLC

Mark Kushner, Senior Vice President of School Development and Partnerships, K12, Inc.

Rob Lippincott, Senior Vice President for Education, PBS

Gayle Manchin, State Board of Education, West Virginia; and former First lady

Margery Mayer, President, Scholastic Education

Kathleen McCartney, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Gerald S. Lesser Professor in

Early Childhood Development, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Terry M. Moe, Professor, Stanford University, and Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution

Vasanth Mohan, Vice President, MOBL21

Carrie Morgridge, Co-Founder, Morgridge Family Foundation

Rae Mugnolo, SMART Technologies

Susan Patrick, President and CEO, International Association for K-12 Online Learning

Daniel S. Peters, President, Lovett & Ruth Peters Foundation

Ramona Pierson, Chief Science Officer, Promethean

Fernando M. Reimers, Ford Foundation Professor of International Education,

Harvard Graduate School of Education

Victor Reinoso, Georgetown University (former Deputy Mayor for Education, DC)

Seth Reynolds, Partner, The Parthenon Group

Colin Rogister

Joel Rose, School of One

L. Todd Rose, Scientist, CAST, and Lecturer on Education, Harvard University

Aylon Samouha, Chief Schools Officer, Rocketship Education

Michael J. Schmedlen, Director of Worldwide Education, Lenovo

Mark Schneiderman, Senior Director of Education Policy, Software & Information

Industry Association

Don Soifer, Executive Vice President, Lexington Institute

Lawrence Stupski, Chairman, Stupski Foundation

Ana Thompson, Executive Director, Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation

Tom Vander Ark, CEO, Open Education Solutions

Dr. William M. White, Dean, The Charles H. Polk School of Leadership and

Professional Development, Mountain State University, WV

Bob Wise, President, Alliance for Excellent Education

Esther Wojcicki, Teacher & Vice Chair, Creative Commons

Julie. E. Young, President & CEO, Florida Virtual School

The above list represents the letter’s original signatories. To add your signature, please click here.

Additional Signatories

Rick Ackerly, Consultant, Geniusinchildren

Nafez Al Dakkak, Consultant, PwC

David Albury, Design and Development Director, Global Education Leaders’ Program, Innovation Unit UK

Jeff Allen, Director of Educational Technology, Olympic Educational Service District 114

Robert Allen, President, Tutor Hawai’i

Pamela Appleton, Eastern Regional Director, ERB

Dorothy Ashton, Sr. Mgr. Part Time Student Services, Connections Learning

Jim Askew, Curriculum Coordinator, Crescent High School, Crescent, OK

Libby Baker, Senior Educational Consultant, Teaching Matters

Art Bardige, President, Enablearning

James C. Barrood, Executive Director, Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurship – Fairleigh Dickinson University

Edward Russell Bauer, Math Teacher, Jefferson County Schools

Elizabeth W. Bauer, Member (2003-2011), Michigan State Board of Education

R. Mark Beadle, Ed.D., CEO, Sevenstar Academy

Gary Beckner, Executive Director, Association of American Educators

David Bennett, RMIT University

Barnett Berry, President, Center for Teaching Quality

Victoria Bergsagel, President, Architects of Achievement

Frank Bonsal, General Partner, New Markets Venture Partners

James Bosco, Professor Emeritus Educational Studies, Western Michigan University

Wallace E. Boston, Jr., President and CEO, American Public University System

Robert C. Bowen, Chairman, Scientific Learning

Troy Lee Braley, Principal, Jeffco Public Schools

Craig G. Broeren, District Administrator, Prairie Farm School District

Michael Burkett, Teacher, Stone High School

Dean A Chandler, Founder & CEO, Innoprises

Monique Christensen, President, Indiana Virtual School Families

Jon Christian, High School Chemistry Teacher, Washington Park HS

Wayee Chu, Associate Partner, NewSchools Venture Fund

Alan D. Cohen, Principal, Portledge School

Elizabeth Corcoran, CEO, EdSurge

Senator Rich Crandall, Education Chair, Arizona Senate

Stephen Crawford, Research Professor, George Washinton University Institute of Public Policy

Brian Crouse, President, Online Christian Education Association

James Cryan, Executive Director, Rocky Mountain Prep

Kristin Cuilla, Director, New School Development, New Tech Network

Teresa Cushing, Program Manager, Harvard University

Hardin Daniel, Vice President, Discovery Education Assessment

Rob Darrow, Ed.D., Founder, Online Learning Visions

Hall Davidson, Director of Global Learning Initiatives, Discovery Education

Michael A. Davis, Chief of Staff, Fulton County Schools

Lisa Dawley, Professor, Boise State University

Jon S. DeArment, Vice President Mfg. & Eng., Channellock, Inc.

Donald D. Deshler, Director, University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning

Pam Dion, Co-Founder/Director, Advantages Online Private School

Lydia Dobyns, President, New Tech Network

Jonathan J Dunbier, TAS Teacher, Careers Advisor, Year Advisor, Mount Annan Christian College

Lisa Durff, FCP

Lesli Evans, President/Owner, Professional ED Corporation

Tracy Fitzwater, Teacher-Librarian, Crescent Education Association

Dana Fulmer, Supervisor for Professional Development, Ulster BOCES

Myk Garn, Director, Educational Technology, Southern Regional Education Board

Sajan George, Founder & CEO, Matchbook Learning

Lisa Gillis, President/CEO, Integrated Educational Strategies

Susan Graham, President/Lead, Graham Consulting

Brian Greenberg, Chief Academic Officer, Envision Schools

Matthew Greenfield, Partner, Stonework Capital

Diana L. Greer, Assistant Research Professor, eLearning Design Lab, University of Kansas

Jennifer Groff, Director of Learning & Program Development, Learning Games Network

Shandon D. Gubler, Board Member, Agilix Labs, Inc.

Lynette Guastaferro, Executive Director, Teaching Matters

Githa Spring Hampson, student, UCLA

Susan Hanson, Senior Researcher, New Teacher Center

Greg Harris, Policy Advisor, KnowledgeWorks

Monica Henson, Executive Director, Provost Academy Georgia

Darla Kay Hill, Distance Educator and Technology Integrationist

Randy Jay Hinrichs, CEO, 2b3d

Grace Hoagland, Director, Leadership Programs, Stanford Univ. School of Education

Shannon Holden, CEO,

Doug Holton, Assistant Professor, Utah State University

Scott Hsu, Attorney, Self-Employed

Haiyan Hua, Lecturer, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Jessica Isola, Director, Login Learning

Sharnell Jackson, President/CEO, Data-Driven Innovations Consulting

Anoop Jayadevan, Co-Founder, Fidelis

Ryan Jones, Secondary Teacher, Pajaro Valley Unified School District

Curtis Johnson, Managing Partner, Education Evolving

Marguerite Johnson, Assistant Superintendent, Educational Services, Westside Union School District

Richard Julian, 5th Grade Teacher, Los Altos School District

Melvin J. Kaplan, Co-founder/CEO, Harry Singer Foundation

Dana Keller, Writer, More Than Words

William Kelly, CEO,

Gary Kidd, Director C&I, Belgrade Public Schools

Timothy Kieran O’Mahony, Research Associate, College of Education, University of Washington

Anthony Kim, CEO, Education Elements

James Knox, ESL Coordinator, ACCION Academy

Joel Kramer, Principal, Pierson Vocational High School, Nogales, AZ

Michael Kritzman, Founder and CEO, SchoolTown Blended Learning

Keith R. Krueger, CEO, Consortium for School Networking (CoSN)

James Landi, Headmaster, The Salisbury School of Maryland

Richard C. Larson, Professor, MIT

Hansoo Lee, CEO/Board Member, Magoosh/World Savvy

Bob Lenz, CEO, Envision Schools

Andrew Littlefield, Technology Administrator, Exeter Region Cooperative School District

Allen Lind, CEO, Kentucky Virtual Campus

Jessica Lindl, SVP Marketing and Sales, Scientific Learning

Alan Louie, Founder, Imagine K12

Brian Lynch, Founder, lynchpyns

Katherine Mackey, Education Research Fellow and Design Editor, Innosight Institute

Nicki Massieon, Consultant, retired educator, Colorado educational organizations

Edward P. Meehan, Partner, Arcady Bay Partners LLC

Juan Melendez, Professor, University of Puerto Rico

Myles Mendoza, National Strategy Director, Democrats for Education Reform

Brian J. Meshkin, School Board Member, Board of Education, Howard County, MD Public School System

Ed Meyen, Ph.D, University of Kansas

Al Meyers, Co-founder & Board Chair, Atlanta Music Project, Inc.

David Montgomery, Teacher, Oyster River Middle School

Jeffrey Moore, Administrative Supervisor for Curriculum and Instruction, Freehold Regional High School District

Nan J. Morrison, CEO, Council for Economic Education

Marsha M. Myles, President and CEO, EdTech Specialists, LLC

Jake Neuberg, Co-Founder, RevolutionK12

Steve Nordmark, VP, Education Technology Architect, netTrekker

Cathleen Norris, Regents Professor, University of North Texas

Fiona O’Carroll, EVP, New Ventures & Innovation, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Cheryl Oakes, Resource Room Teacher/Facilitator, Wells High School

Richard Ogston, CEO, Carpe Diem Schools

Jaison Oliver, Enrollment Specialist, Reasoning Mind

Joseph Pedulla, Associate Professor, Senior Research Associate, Boston College, Center for the Study of Testing, Evaluation & Public Policy

Lisa A. Petrides, President, Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME)

Susan C. Powell, Ed.D, Senior Professional Development Consultant, Education 2020

David E. Pritchard, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics, MIT

David M. Quinn, Vice President, Assessment & Evaluation, Sangari Global Education

Dominic A.A. Randolph, Head of School, Riverdale Country School

Karl T Rectanus, Leader, NC STEM Community Collaborative

Alex Ragone,Director of Technology: Grade 8 Dean,Collegiate School

Osman Rashid, Co-Founder and CEO, Kno, Inc.

Dave Saba, CEO, Laying the Foundation

Katie Salen, Executive Director, Institute of Play

Bror Saxberg, Chief Learning Officer, Kaplan, Inc.

Marlene B. Seltzer, President & CEO, Jobs for the Future

Justin Serrano, President, Kaplan K12 and College Prep

Bryan Setser, Vice President, Open Education Solutions

Nirmal Singh, CEO, Integrated Learning Solution

Pram Sithuoth, RAN Field O&M Engineer, Latelz

Elliot Soloway, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, University of Michigan

Heather Staker, Senior Research Fellow, Innosight Institute

Michael Staton, CEO, Inigral, Inc

John Stuppy, Ph.D., CEO, EDUMETRIX Inc.

Paula Tallal, Board of Governors Professor of Neuroscience, Rutgers University

Michael Thompson, Director, Ed Elements

Doug Tuthill, President, Step Up For Students

Christine Harris-Van Keuren, Consultant and Doctoral Student, Teachers College, Columbia University

Daniel S. Varner, Program Officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Member, Michigan State Board of Education

Louise Bay Waters, Superintendent & CEO, Leadership Public Schools

Cathy Webb, K-12 Technology Integration Coach, Edmonds Heights K-12

Stewart Weinberg, Superintendent of Schools, Dallastown Area School District

Eileen Weiser, Member, Michigan State Board of Education

Thomas Welch, Consultant, 1992 KY teacher of the year, TWelch Consulting

Steven Werlein, Head of School, Gateway College Prep School

Colleen Wernet, Math Teacher, Ipswich High School, MA

Lorraine Whalen, Technology Support Teacher, Los Alamos Public Schools

Randy Wilhelm, CEO, netTrekker

Dr. Kirk Wilson, CEO, World Change Network

Ric Wiltse, Executive Director, Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning

Beth Ann Wright, Founder & CEO, Translational Education LLC

H. Laurie Yankowitz, Teachers College, Columbia University

Todd Yarch, Principal, VOISE Academy High School

Dr. Katherine Zatz, Chair, Board of Trustees, American Public University System

Nikkie Zanevsky, Marketing Manager, Children’s Progress


*See Heather Staker, “The rise of K-12 blended learning: Profiles of emerging models,” Innosight Institute, May 2011, The report profiles 40 operators pioneering blended-learning models of various types, several of which are moving in this bold new direction for students.


Posted in Achievement, Curriculum, Department of Education, Questions.

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