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National Landscape Fragments as States Plan Common-Core Testing

Only a few years ago, the ambitious initiative to use shared assessments to gauge learning based on the new common-core standards had enlisted 45 states and the District of Columbia. Today, the testing landscape looks much more fragmented, with only 27 of them still planning to use those tests in 2014-15, and the rest opting for other assessments or undecided, an Education Week analysis shows. 

For a variety of reasons, including the length and cost of the tests and political heat over the federal money supplied for their development, many states changed their minds about using the end-of-year accountability tests in English/language arts and math from the two state consortia that are leading the drive.

As of mid-May, 17 states planned to use the tests produced by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium; just nine states plus the District of Columbia planned to use tests made by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.

Adding a level of complexity, seven states decided to split their assessment regimes, using one test designer for high school and another for lower grades.

Taken together, the shifts have produced a far less unified testing environment than existed even a year ago, when all but a half-dozen states still planned to use one of two assessments by Smarter Balanced or PARCC.

In sharp contrast, Education Week’s analysis shows that states’ current plans for 2014-15 encompass the use of at least 19 different tests.