A Right Turn on Assessments: State-Directed Assessments Using an Interstate Test-Item Bank Cooperative

Federal education policy will take a markedly different tack in the Donald Trump administration than it did under Barack Obama’s Department of Education (ED). Using the carrots and sticks of Race to the Top (RTT) grants and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers, Obama’s ED took the federal role in education to unprecedented heights by pushing its favored policy solutions on states. Chief among these were the Common Core State Standards and the multi-state consortia assessments aligned to them.

Opposition to the Common Core and the associated assessments repeatedly led President-elect Trump to promise their undoing. The next administration could take a bold step that will return sovereignty over education—including standards—to states; recoup some of the withering federal investments in the consortia; create a sustainable, long-term basis for state accountability systems; and do all this without resorting to new federal mandates or additional burdens for states.

Federal accountability requirements will remain, and the administration has limited direct authority on Common Core, but changes to how assessments are constructed could pull the lynchpin from the policy knot in which many states still find themselves.

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