This revealing back-and-forth with the United States Department of Education is the third and final installment in our testing-consortia series.
“The Department,” like any hulking, beltway-bound federal agency, can seem like a cold, faceless leviathan—this imposing force, issuing impenetrable regulations from a utilitarian, vaguely Soviet, city block–sized building in the shadow of the Capitol.
But those who interact with it regularly, especially those of us fortunate enough to have worked there, know that it is made up of hundreds and hundreds of very fine people.
During my tenure there, I found both the career staff and the political appointees to be knowledgeable public servants and excellent colleagues. While working for a state department of education, I found the Department’s team to be thoughtful, accessible, and accommodating. And in my loyal-opposition think-tank stints, during which I sometimes find myself poking and prodding the Department, they’ve been patient, respectful, but understandably steely adversaries.
I’m appreciative that they took the time to answer these questions so thoroughly, and I’m flabbergasted that they did so at—in terms of agency timelines—Guinness-Book speed.
What would the U.S. Department of Education (ED) like people to know about the testing consortia?
The consortia are designing the next generation of assessment systems, which include diagnostic or formative assessments, not just end-of-the-year summative assessments. Their systems will assess student achievement of standards, student growth, and whether students are on-track to being college and career ready. These new systems will offer significant improvements directly responsive to the wishes of teachers and...