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Betsy DeVos' Team Makes Grants Available for States to Improve Testing

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Attention state officials: Are you looking for a piece of the competitive portion of the federal $378 million state assessment grant program? Applications became available Monday, the U.S. Department of Education announced.

As required by the Every Student Succeeds Act, the department is looking to give grants to states that want to do some outside-the-box things, including measuring student growth from different sources. That could allow states to try out things like interim assessments or formative tests, which gauge how students are doing along the way, a shift from the big, summative test at the end of the year.

The department is also looking to reward states that want to try out performance tasks, technology-based assessments, computer adaptive tests, or projects. These "competency based" or performance tests are becoming increasing popular.

The agency also wants to fund better tests for vulnerable populations, including English language learners and students in special education.

And the department is interested in allocating grants to states that want to measure student growth using test scores under the Every Student Succeeds Act or collaborate with higher education institutions, researchers, and others to make sure tests are valid.

The department added two of its own priorities, beyond what's required by ESSA. One would give an edge to states that want to develop better literacy tests. And the other gives a leg-up to states that want to improve science, math, engineering, and technology assessments. 

States are supposed to let the U.S. Department of Education know they are interested in applying by February 27 and send in their applications about a month later, on March 29.

Photo: Swikar Patel for Education Week

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