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Additional Players in Race to Top Assessment Contest?

Okay. So if you were a reporter who was keeping track of the different consortia forming to apply for Race to the Top assessment money, and you saw this Web page newly posted by the Educational Testing Service, would you get the impression that perhaps ETS is partnering with the College Board and Pearson Learning to help states in one of those consortia?

Mmm-hmm. You might. But that doesn't mean you would necessarily be correct.

Confused? Let me back up.

Not long ago, we told you that the College Board and ACT Inc., were each talking with states to see if they could help them tackle high school end-of-course tests for the $30 million being given out in the RTT assessment competition. (And we've been writing a good deal about the other consortia vying for the $320 million for comprehensive assessment systems.)

Now the ETS comes along and posts the new resource page. In the very first paragraph, it talks about the consortia forming for the Race to the Top competition. In the second paragraph, it mentions that it stands "ready to help in the common assessments initiative."

Among the resources on the page are a paper that discusses how different tests can yield comparable results, a topic of great interest to the organizers of the common standards initiative. The paper is written by six men from the ETS, College Board, and Pearson Learning.

Also among the resources is a paper about high school assessment, which is one of the two areas in the RTT assessment competition. It's co-authored by the same six men. Another white paper on the resource page, the more general "Thoughts on an Assessment of Common Core Standards," is also, uhh, authored by... you got it. The same team. And the very first sentence in that "Thoughts" paper announces that the three organizations have formed an assessment collaborative.

So, wassup? Are ETS, the College Board and Pearson talking with states about an RTT assessment consortium? (the College Board discussed this possibility with states in a May 10 conference call, which we told you about last week.)

In response to my inquiry, the ETS, Pearson, and the College Board drafted a statement saying that they have "formed a collaboration to explore how innovative approaches and best practices in high-quality assessments can be applied to the creation of a common assessment system. This agreement does not prohibit ETS, Pearson or the College Board from pursuing work outside of the collaboration. While neither ETS nor the group as a whole is working directly with states on Race to the Top assessment grant matters, the collaboration is helping in the public discussions surrounding Race to the Top assessments by providing information, research and practical experience."

Stay tuned.

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