17 Jan What the NPP (Yeah, you know me!) might mean for states
By Dale Chu
Recently, the U.S. Department of Education published a notice of proposed priorities (NPP) for the Competitive Grants for State Assessments (CGSA) program. In and of itself, the announcement of grantmaking priorities is unexceptional. The Department typically does this each time it administers a grant competition under the program. However, previous priorities have generally been linked to statutory uses of funds. This is the first time the Department has used priorities to link the CGSA with innovative assessments vis-à-vis the Innovative Assessment Development Authority (IADA).
I previously shared some thoughts on what this might signal regarding the future of innovative assessments. It’s worth keeping an eye on given all of the noise, especially among some presidential candidates, surrounding state assessment systems. In this post, I’ll break down what’s included, what it means, and otherwise get down to brass tacks, but check back with us for more updates in the near future.
What is the NPP?
The NPP proposes two priorities, which the Department may use in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 and later years. Both are meant to encourage states (and consortia of states) to consider new approaches for their state assessments, building on the flexibility provided by the IADA. Comments on the NPP are due by Feb. 7.
What is the CGSA program?
The Competitive Grants for State Assessments program supports efforts by states (and consortia of states) to improve their student assessment systems. More specifically, there are six allowable uses of CGSA funds:
1. Develop or improve assessments for English learners (ELs), including assessments of English language proficiency and assessments administered in non-English languages;
2. Develop or improve models for measuring and assessing student progress or student academic growth on state assessments;
3. Develop or improve assessments for children with disabilities, including alternate assessments for children with the most significant disabilities and methods for employing principles of universal design for learning;
4. Collaborate with institutions of higher education to improve the quality, reliability and validity of assessments beyond the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA);
5. Develop systems for measuring student academic achievement using multiple measures of that achievement gleaned from multiple sources; or
6. Develop comprehensive academic assessment instruments (such as performance- and technology-based assessments, computer-adaptive assessments or extended- performance-task assessments) that emphasize the mastery of standards and aligned competencies in a competency-based education model.
How much funding is available?
The amount fluctuates annually. For FY 2020, about $8.9 million is available. The award amount to winning states is based on the size of the state’s student population.
What types of grants are available?
The Department anticipates making 12-to-18-month planning grants and 26-to-48-month implementation grants. The implementation grants will have larger budgets.
Tell me more about these two priorities.
The first priority would assist states that have been approved to implement the IADA. The second would support states in planning to apply for that approval. A state or consortium applying under one of the priorities would use its grant for one or more of the six allowable CGSA uses of funds as outlined above.
Remind me what the IADA is.
Briefly, the IADA permits states to pilot innovative approaches to student assessment by first implementing those approaches in a limited number of schools or districts. Over a period of years, states approved for the IADA must scale up their innovative assessments system so that it eventually covers the entire state and replaces a state’s existing assessment system.
To receive approval for IADA, a state or consortium of states must meet a number of criteria specified in ESSA, such as having innovative assessments that meet the Title I assessment requirements and demonstrating that the state’s innovative assessments produce results that are comparable to the results from the state’s regular assessment system.
ESSA allows the Department initially to approve up to seven states to implement the IADA; the Department has approved four states to do so thus far: Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana, and New Hampshire. After completion of the initial demonstration period, the Department may grant IADA authority to additional states.