The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction was awarded a $10.5 million, four-year grant by the U.S. Department of Education last week to create an online English-language proficiency assessment pegged to the Common Core standards.
Wisconsin is leading a 28-state consortium that will work with the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment consortium, or WIDA, and several other partners to create an online tool to assess English-language learners' skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking English. You can see a list of all the states involved and get some background here.
Wisconsin's project is called ASSETS: Assessment Services Supporting ELs through Technology Systems and includes formative assessments, benchmark assessments, an annual summative test, and more—all computer-based. The grant will also fund training and evaluation for the program. Wisconsin's proposal talks about helping students "reach college and career readiness." Here's a link to the proposal if you're interested in learning more specifics.
The state Department of Instruction put out a release announcing the grant on Tuesday.
Wisconsin's was one of two applications, both submitted this past spring. California had also formed a consortium, comprised of 17 states, and applied for the grant. The U.S. Department of Education awarded the entirety of the grant money to Wisconsin rather than dividing it between the two states.
WIDA and Wisconsin are currently in the process of developing two other online assessments that are tied to the Common Core. We wrote earlier about how ELLs should be taken into consideration as the general assessments are developed; this is a different assessment, designed specifically for ELLS.
The new assessment, with its tie to the Common Core and its multistate involvement, could lead to increased standardization in how ELLs are taught in the U.S. It should be interesting to see how it develops.