Serving a Multi-State Alternate Assessment Consortium

The National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC), comprised of 5 centers and 24 states, built an assessment program based on alternate achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. The project was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, under the Race to the Top program.

Homepage-box3The NCSC alternate assessment, based on evidence-centered design, evaluates knowledge of Common Core Math and ELA (reading and writing) standards at grades 3–8 and 11, and includes:

  • 30–35 items for each subject, mostly selected-response
  • One writing prompt per grade, allowing multiple modes of response
  • Direct student input to online test, or teacher-entered responses

Challenge: Multiple Players and Rapid Transition

When plans for online test administration with another contractor fell through, the NCSC oversight group had to find a vendor to immediately take over test administration, scoring, standard setting, reporting, and development of a technical report. The first operational testing was to begin in spring 2015. The online delivery platform, developed by Breakthrough Technologies, was already tested and in place. To coordinate the project with 5 steering committee states, 5 participating agencies, and Breakthrough as partners, the vendor needed to be capable of

  • Skillful facilitation
  • Open and responsive communications
  • Digging deeply into difficult issues and hearing all viewpoints with respect and consideration

The NCSC leaders knew Measured Progress would be a good fit.

It’s hard to move a large group quickly to make really hard decisions—decisions that we all feel strongly about because they have a direct impact on students. Measured Progress’s program manager was able to listen to all points of view and still keep the many participants focused and moving forward.”

Audra Ahumada | director of Alternate Assessment | Arizona Department of Education

Solution: Continuity and Cooperation

Measured Progress was happy to work with Breakthrough Technologies to provide the online delivery platform. The two companies share a commitment to providing meaningful assessments for all students. The attention to detail, flexibility, and responsiveness of the Measured Progress/Breakthrough team was a good match for the NCSC’s open communications style.

Shifting into high gear early in 2015, all the participants worked together to identify where the previous vendor had left off and what needed to be completed in only 2 months.

Outcome: Rapid Implementation

Fourteen states and territories were scheduled to begin operational testing. Preparations addressed a range of needs: from states in which online alternate assessment or performance-based alternate assessment were new, to states that had experience with other online programs. Measured Progress, Breakthrough, and the states were ready for test administration to begin on March 30, 2015. It didn’t take long for all the team members to breathe a collective sigh of relief: District and school testing staff reported that the implementation was seamless and the platform was easy to use. In all, nearly 35,000 students used the online platform, completing approximately 70,000 tests. This was the largest operational alternate assessment ever administered.

Going forward, the Measured Progress/Breakthrough solution is available to states and new consortia.

About Breakthrough Technologies

Breakthrough Technologies is recognized as the nation’s leading developer of open-source technology for K–12 assessments. It brings its innovative and extensive technology and assessment platform expertise to the project. For the NCSC assessment, Breakthrough incorporated the TAO open-source test delivery system, which runs in current web browsers without the need to download a platform onto local computers. Breakthrough’s system assures the security of test and scoring data, and seamlessly links student enrollment, administrator qualification, and student demographic data functions with the test delivery platform.

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