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State Wins Slice of New Education Grant

State of Tennessee Press Release; Sept. 2, 2010:

NASHVILLE –Tennessee will share in a $170 million Race to the Top Assessment Program grant announced today by the U.S. Department of Education. Twenty-six states joined together to create the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC). Florida submitted an application in June on behalf of the 26-state consortium. The funds will be used to develop common assessments aligned to common standards for what students should learn at each grade level.

“The funds awarded to this partnership will allow us to create a common assessment and performance standards anchored in college and career readiness,” said Governor Phil Bredesen. “This will help us reach our fundamental goal of increasing the rate at which students graduate from high school prepared for success in college and the workplace.”

Together, the 26 PARCC states educate more than 60 percent of the K-12 students in the United States. Tennessee is one of 11 governing states that will lead the assessment development effort for the partnership along with Arizona, the District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. Florida will serve as the Partnership’s fiscal agent.

The goal of PARCC is to create an assessment system that will help states dramatically increase the number of students that graduate high school ready for college and careers and provide students, parents, teachers and policymakers with the tools they need to help students – from grade three through high school – stay on track and graduate prepared.

The proposed assessment system will be computer based, with students taking parts of the assessment at key times during the school year, closer to when they learn the material, rather than waiting for a single test at the end of the year. Teachers and principals will be able to see how students are progressing toward achieving the standards at key points in the school year, allowing them to adjust instructional practices or give extra support to students who need it.

Because the assessments will be developed by states in partnership with one another, they will provide a common metric for measuring the performance of their students; for the first time, meeting standards in one state will mean the same thing as in others.

To ensure the assessment system is anchored in what it takes to be successful in college and careers, higher education systems and institutions in all PARCC states will participate in the development of the new high school tests. More than 200 higher education institutions, including some of the largest in the country, have agreed to participate. The goal will be for those institutions, and the nearly 1,000 campuses they represent, to honor the results of the new assessments as an indicator of students’ readiness to take first-year credit-bearing courses.

Achieve played a key role in coordinating the work of the partnership, leveraging the organization’s experience in developing education standards, including helping develop the Common Core State Standards, and its experience leading multi-state assessment development efforts anchored in college- and career-ready goals.

Achieve is an independent, bipartisan, nonprofit education reform organization based in Washington D.C. that helps states raise academic standards and graduation requirements, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability. Governor Bredesen serves as co-chair of the Achieve Board of Directors.

More information about today’s grant announcement is online at:

http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-secretary-education-duncan-announces-winners-competition-improve-student-asse.

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