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Aurora Institute

In Support of ESEA and the Innovative Assessment Pilot

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Chris Sturgis

Issue(s): Federal Policy, Harness Opportunities in ESSA

SenateThe following letter regarding support of reauthorizing the ESEA with its Innovative Assessment Pilot has been sent to Senator Lamar Alexander, Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Education, and Labor, and Pensions; Senator Patty Murray, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Congressman John Kline, Chairman, House Committee on Education and the Workforce; and Bobby Scott, Ranking Member, House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Here is a link to the final bill language. Maria Worthen, iNACOL’s Vice President for Federal and State Policy, provided a quick summary of the importance of this bill to our work in advancing competency education:

A key highlight of this bill for the field of competency education and personalized learning is the changes it makes to federal requirements on state systems of assessments. The bill allows all states to do the following things (that are currently not allowed under NCLB):

  • Measure individual student growth
  • Use multiple measures of student learning 
  • Use data from multiple points in time to calculate summative scores and growth (rather than requiring scores to come from a single, end of year, summative test)
  • Use adaptive assessments that measure students’ achievement at their actual level

We expect the House to vote on final passage as early as Wednesday of this week with the Senate likely to follow next week.

Dear Chairman Alexander, Chairman Kline, Ranking Member Murray, and Ranking Member Scott:

We, the undersigned organizations, applaud the House-Senate Conference Committee for approving a compromise agreement on reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The Every Student Succeeds Act makes significant improvements to the assessment requirements. These improvements will lift the barriers in current law to systems of assessments that can support personalized, competency-based learning and support our ultimate shared goal of college and career readiness for all students.

A growing number of states are developing new, student-centered systems of assessments designed to support competency-based learning. These systems include statewide, standards-aligned banks of performance assessments, entry and exit benchmarking, and annual summative validation. Federal law should provide a clear path to approval for these states, and ensure rigor and quality of these new, innovative systems of assessments. We are pleased that the conference agreement establishes an Innovative Assessment Pilot to allow states to apply for permission to develop rigorous systems of assessments that better align with student-centered, competency-based learning models.

We are also pleased to see provisions in the conference agreement to permit all state systems of assessments to measure individual student growth; use multiple measures of student learning from multiple points in time to determine summative scores; and use adaptive assessments that can measure students where they are in their learning.


Alliance for Excellent Education

America Forward

Big Picture Learning

CAST, Inc.

Center for Assessment

Center for Innovation in Education

Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation


CoSN – the Consortium for School Networking

Forum for Youth Investment

Foundation for Excellence in Education

Generation Citizen

iNACOL — International Association for K-12 Online Learning

Jobs for the Future


Large Countywide and Suburban District Consortium

Matchbook Learning

NASBE — National Association of State Boards of Education

New Hampshire Department of Education

Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) at EDUCAUSE

Partnership for 21st Century Learning

Project Tomorrow

SETDA– State Educational Technology Directors Association

The Learning Accelerator

Virtual Learning Academy Charter School