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California Department of Education News Release
Release: #11-43
June 9, 2011
Contact: Tina Jung
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Education Leaders Jointly Announce California's Role
in New Multistate Consortium Formed to Develop New
Generation of Assessments

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and State Board of Education President Michael Kirst today announced that California will join the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium as a governing state.

"Today marks the beginning of a new era in student testing and accountability," Torlakson said. "By working together, we've put California where it belongs—poised to play a leadership role."

"This is a wonderful opportunity for California to step up as a leader in assessment design and provide much more timely information to teachers, parents, and students," Kirst said.

Currently, a total of 30 states have signed up to become members of the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium. Of those, California is one of 18 governing states, which allows decision-making participation. The remaining 12 are advisory states.

The consortium has received a $176 million Race to the Top assessment grant from the U.S. Department of Education to design a new assessment system aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The system will include assessments in English-language arts (ELA) and mathematics in grades three through eight and grade eleven. The new assessments will be in place for the 2014-15 school year.

Torlakson, Kirst, and Governor Jerry Brown signed a Memorandum of Understanding to give California greater involvement in the development of a new generation of student assessments that will emphasize a deep knowledge of core concepts within and across disciplines, problem solving, analysis, synthesis, and critical thinking.

As a governing state, California will have an active role in all decision making, and provide representatives for various work groups and steering committees. The goal of the consortium is to prepare students for college and career by improving teaching and learning in our schools through the development of an innovative system of assessments of the Common Core State Standards in ELA and mathematics that is valid, reliable, and fair for all students.

The SMARTER Balanced assessment system will be designed to meet federal- and state-level accountability requirements and provide teachers and parents with timely and accurate information to measure and track individual student growth.

The assessment system will utilize computer adaptive technologies to design assessments that will minimize the amount of time that students are out of the classroom and away from their teachers, better measure student abilities across the full spectrum of student performance, evaluate growth in learning, and provide more information to teachers, administrators, and parents within weeks of testing.

Teachers will play a critical role in the development of the new assessment system as they will be involved in the design, development, and scoring of assessment items and tasks.

More information on the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium can be found at SMARTER [http://www.k12.wa.us/smarter/] External link opens in new window or tab.. For more information on the Common Core State Standards Initiative, please visit Common Core State Standards Initiative | Home [http://www.corestandards.org/] External link opens in new window or tab..

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5206, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

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