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iNACOL Submits Recommendations to ED In Open Comment Period for ESSA Request for Information

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Susan Patrick

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

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This post originally appeared at iNACOL on January 22, 2106.

ESSA’s Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority pilot program represents a significant opportunity for states to design student-centered education systems that improve equity by personalizing education for all students. We hope the Department considers these recommendations as it designs a pilot program that encourages innovation and quality implementation.

In recent years, we have witnessed an increasing number of states interested in the development of new, student-centered systems of assessments designed to support competency-based learning. But despite their potential to produce meaningful, real-time feedback on student learning, federal assessment requirements have made it challenging for states to design and implement new approaches to academic assessment.

Fortunately, the newly-enacted ESSA law includes a number of key provisions to help states interested in building next generation assessment systems. These provisions include a new Innovative Assessment and Accountability Demonstration Authority and provisions that will permit states to design assessment systems that incorporate 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. These improvements will help states design more useful assessments that guide improvements in teaching and learning to ensure all students master the academic knowledge, skills, and competencies necessary for success in college and career.

While we strongly support all of these improvements to the law, the following recommendations address clarifications of intent within the Innovative Assessment and Accountability Demonstration Authority authorized in Sec. 1204 of ESSA. We provide details for these recommendations below in the formal comment letter to ED.

Recommendations include:

  1. Clarify the Role of Accountability in the Transition Evaluation
  2. Ensure Participation of Competency Education Experts on Peer Review Panel
  3. Ensure that the Federal Approval Process for System Design Encourages Innovation and Safeguards Equity
  4. Issue a Technical Fix for Citation in 1204(c)(2) of the Progress Report
  5. Allow Additional Time to Achieve Demographic Similarity for Participating Districts
  6. Encourage Feedback from Students in Reporting and Progress Report
  7. Provide States with an Opportunity to Engage in a Planning Process to Ensure Quality Implementation

In the letter, we also offer a description about the ESSA’s potential to transform assessment systems for K-12 students.

What recommendations would you provide to ED? Please comment or tweet us here: @nacol.