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School Improvement RFP of the Week (1): Assessing Maryland's Tests Against Maryland's Standards

Announcement: Alignment Study Consultant and Reports Due July 15 (Jun 26), Maryland Department of Education

Their Description: The United States Department of Education (USED) is conducting a Standards and Assessment Peer Review of each state’s content standards and assessment program to document compliance with requirements specified by No Child Left Behind. Components of this Peer Review require studies to be conducted by entities outside the state departments of education....

This RFP is to solicit a qualified Contractor for consulting services in conducting alignment studies as requested by MSDE.... The Contractor shall provide alignment studies, in report format, that delineate the relationships between the structure of the content standards and the structure of the assessments. The study shall include appropriate documentation needed to help meet evidentiary requirements specified for the Standards and Assessments Peer Review Process as indicated in Sections 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, and 5.6. of the Standards and Assessments Peer Review Guidance....

The Maryland assessments to be evaluated for this study include....

• The Modified High School Assessment in Algebra/Data Analysis

• The Modified High School Assessment in Biology

• The Modified High School Assessment in English

• The Modified High School Assessment in Government

• The Maryland School Assessment in Science in grade 5

• The Maryland School Assessment in Science in grade 8, and

• The Maryland High School Assessment in Biology.

Each study shall identify:

a. whether the identified Maryland assessments... cover the full range of content... in the State’s academic content standards, meaning that all... standards are represented... in the assessments,

b..... measure both the content (what students know) and the process (what students can do) aspects of the academic content standards,

c. ....reflect the same degree and pattern of emphasis apparent in the academic content standards (e.g., if the academic content standards place a lot of emphasis on operations then so should the assessments),

d. ....reflect the full range of cognitive complexity and level of difficulty of the concepts and processes described, and depth represented, in the State’s academic content standards, meaning that the assessments are as demanding as the standards, including an evaluation of the use and placement of item types as they relate to cognitive complexity, including selected response items, brief constructed response items, extended constructed response items, and student-produced response items (sometime referred to as “gridded items”),

e. ....yield results that represent all achievement levels specified in the State’s academic achievement standards, and,

f. any gaps or weaknesses found in the identified Maryland assessments as related to State content standards and make recommendations for improvements.

My Thoughts: Someday, someone will come up with an automated “expert systems” approach to standards alignment. (Align to Achieve came close before its owners and partners pulled the plug.) Today, it is almost entirely based on an expert eyeballing a standard and a test item and using judgment to decide on a match.

K-12Leads and Youth Service Markets Report is a comprehensive weekly web-enabled report delivered by email on Monday. It covers grant and contract RFPs issued by every federal and state education and social services agency and every school district over the internet. K-12Leads is for school improvement providers who understand that their offerings are not commodities, rarely displayed as such, and so easily missed by traditional computer-based “word search” systems.

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