Homepage-box3Based on Alternate Achievement Standards for students with significant cognitive disabilities

DOVER, N.H.—January 20, 2016—As the fiscal agent on behalf of the Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA) participating states, the Arizona Department of Education has awarded Measured Progress the contract for the new MSAA. Transitioning from the work of the National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC) grant project to create and implement an assessment for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, Measured Progress will work with participating states to continue developing the assessment, and to implement and maintain the program. The first administration of the MSAA will take place in Spring 2016 in participating states: Arizona, Arkansas, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Tennessee; and in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam. The term of the contract is three years, with potential one-year extensions for a total of seven years.

This MSAA contract builds on the successful development and implementation of the NCSC program, which Measured Progress managed in partnership with Breakthrough Technologies, the provider of the TAO open-source test delivery platform, and with NCSC management and partner states. NCSC was one of the two special education consortia funded by Race to the Top. NCSC and its successor, MSAA, represent a groundbreaking accomplishment in the field of special education assessment: The program continues to be developed and overseen by participating states and their special educators—not driven by a vendor.

On behalf of the consortium, Audra Ahumada, Director of Alternate Assessment for the Arizona Department of Education said, “MSAA states are excited and looking forward to working with Measured Progress and its partners on the continuation of developing, enhancing, and administering an alternate assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities. We are all focused on collaborating to ensure successful test administrations in the future.”

Given the small numbers of special education students with significant cognitive disabilities in many states, the cost for an individual state to design and implement an innovative alternate assessment is challenging. By pooling resources, the MSAA can provide a variety of item types and accessibility for eligible students at a practical cost and with a feasible administration system. Even more importantly, this collaboration supports the expectation that all students can learn and can demonstrate what they know and can do. And by assessing students in multiple states, the program can amass sufficient data to provide valid and reliable measures of student achievement.

While the overall alternate assessment program will be the same for all the participants, individual states may choose additional options to enhance their programs. For example, a state may choose face-to-face training for test administrators, a technology review to determine their schools’ readiness for online testing, or participation by Measured Progress measurement experts at state Technical Advisory Committee meetings.

States’ adoption over recent years of rigorous new academic content standards, including the Common Core State Standards, has raised expectations for students across the board. According to Measured Progress CEO and President Martin Borg, “In any state we’ve worked with, significant numbers of teachers and students have risen to higher expectations as more rigorous standards have been introduced. The NCSC and MSAA programs demonstrate our collective commitment to all students by giving students with cognitive disabilities new opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and abilities. We are especially proud of our work with NCSC and look forward to supporting states, students, and educators with the new MSAA program.”

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