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The Cost of New Higher Quality Assessments: A Comprehensive Analysis of the Potential Costs for Future State Assessments

Abstract

The Race to the Top (RTTT) funding for common state assessments and the development of common core standards represent important initiatives in upgrading and improving the educational system in the U.S. Statements by President Barack
Obama and the U.S. Department of Education signal a commitment to including more performance-oriented assessments that engage students in more ambitious intellectual projects in new systems to be created by states and consortia of states. However, without any systemic changes in the way assessments are procured, developed, and administered, the cost of new, innovative assessments could exceed the cost of current assessments by a significant amount; and, if these costs are not anticipated and controlled, they could spell the end of such innovative approaches to assessment.

The purpose of this study was to: 1) determine the amount of money a typical state would incur to implement a high-quality assessment (HQA) system including performance components in comparison to the amount currently being spent on their state assessment, and 2) determine if various cost-reduction strategies could be implemented to yield an HQA at a price similar to what a state pays today for its high stakes assessment. The data from the study can be used to inform states, policymakers, and other key decision makers how much new HQA systems could cost under various conditions and what the impact of some cost-mitigation strategies might be.

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