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Assessment Consortia: New Shifts in Membership

The sands are shifting once again among the members of the two big state consortia that have $360 million in federal Race to the Top money to design tests for the common standards.

Last week, New Jersey and Oklahoma became "governing" members of the Partnership for the Assessment of College and Career Readiness (PARCC). Both states had been "participating" members, but decided to shift into roles that give them more input into the design of the testing system PARCC is creating.

But here's the kicker: The move also means that New Jersey and Oklahoma have to drop out of the other testing consortium, SMARTER Balanced. They had been among the dozen or so states that had maintained membership in both consortia to see how things developed, behavior that some consortium wonks likened to polygamy. When a state decides to be a governing member of one consortium, that means it has to belong exclusively to that group. So now New Jersey and Oklahoma have joined the ranks of the monogamous PARCCers.

Arkansas and Georgia had already shifted from participating to governing states within PARCC. For Georgia, that meant dropping out of SBAC, but not so for Arkansas, which had been monogamous even as a participating state. We saw some of this shifting back in December, when New Hampshire decided to stop dating both consortia and go steady with one, SMARTER Balanced, and Wyoming, who hadn't been dating anyone, decided to take up with SBAC as well.

For those of you who like to keep count, all this means that consortium membership now stands at 25 for PARCC and 29 for SBAC. (SBAC's membership list doesn't yet reflect New Jersey's move.)

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