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Smarter Balanced Consortium awards first contract for development

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, of which South Dakota is a member, announced last month that CTB/McGraw Hill will lead a team of assessment experts in developing the first set of next-generation assessment items and performance tasks.

The contract is the largest issued to date by Smarter Balanced and will produce 10,000 items and performance tasks to be used in the pilot test of the assessment system in early 2013. A total of 47,000 items and performance tasks will be needed for the implementation of the assessment system in the 2014-15 school year. A separate contract solicitation will be issued for item and performance task development for the field test of the assessment system in spring 2014.

The Smarter Balanced assessments will go beyond traditional multiple-choice formats. Through this contract, CTB and its partners will research innovative item and task formats to ensure that the assessments provide authentic information that can help improve teaching and student learning. CTB will also hire and train educators from Smarter Balanced states to write and conduct quality reviews of these next-generation assessment items and performance tasks.

This new item-writing contract builds on the efforts of Smarter Balanced work groups and partners over the past 18 months. The consortium has developed content specifications in English language arts/literacy and mathematics, which ensure that the assessments cover the range of knowledge and skills in the Common Core State Standards. In addition, item and task specifications provide guidance on how to translate the content specifications into actual assessment items. These materials are available for download at smarterbalanced.org