- Transitioning assessment systems
- Balancing new assessment systems within a state
In the spirit of the current cooperative environment, Utah, Idaho and Michigan formed a partnership of three states to explore assessment issues related to English Learners and look for ways to collaborate that would serve the interests of all participants. The states wanted to share test items and other materials without violating intellectual property rules in the process. This session will discuss the process of collaboration, with an emphasis on providing a model for states to follow. We will draw from the English Learner experience as well as from a similar inter-state science item sharing activity between Utah and Idaho.
In the summer of 2010, the Utah State Office of Education approached Questar Assessment about the need to begin to look at the future of assessment for English Learners. There was an expressed desire and request to bring states together for a summit to begin to address and identify common interests and sharing of ideas as well as materials across states. This activity began parallel to the onset of the PARCC and SBAC consortia and as the push towards common assessments across states was beginning to ramp up.
In cooperation with Utah, Questar served in a facilitative role as participants were invited to attend a two-day summit meeting. Due to scheduling conflicts and travel restrictions that limited the participation of other states, only Utah, Idaho and Michigan were able to attend. A handful of states expressed interest in keeping tabs on the group’s progress and they were periodically briefed on developments.
The two-day summit meeting was conducted in late October of 2010 with the three states attending. Issues addressed included the impact of the Common Core State Standards on future English Learner assessments, the use of academic language, the usage of screeners, locators and placement tests, performance levels, online testing, accommodations and the possibility of pursuing funding for the group through an enhanced assessment grant. However, the most important and tangible objective for the group was to collaborate and share resources wherever and whenever possible.
There were periodic conference call follow ups in the succeeding months, with the targeted deliverable being a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would allow for the exchange of materials. Great caution was taken to be careful not to violate the rules of any intellectual or other property that was owned specifically by the states and not subject to further distribution. Existing contractual agreements between the respective states and contractors also needed to be protected. After much discussion and several rounds of legal review, and MOU was finalized and put into operation. The technical aspects of the MOU included XML handoffs, associated graphics, mass exports, ancillary materials, etc.
In a different venture, Idaho and Utah have collaborated on exchanging science items and have engaged in similar processes with a different MOU. The discussion in this session will center on the history, process and benefits associated with the respective MOUs. While originally being centered on English Learners and science items, the processes and the resulting MOUs are generalizable to any group or sub-group that desires to have the benefit of an expanded pool of resources with partner states. An emphasis will be placed on a "Things to Think About" and "Lessons Learned" document that gives states a step-by-step procedure to go through as they consider embarking on similar projects, along with a discussion about realistic timeframes for implementation, including but not limited to legal review.