In a November letter to chief state school officers, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona signaled a new openness to changing the way the federal government approaches education assessment. The call to innovate comes with a recognition that current attempts at assessment are not always sufficient, and the nation’s emergence from the pandemic presents an opportunity for meaningful change in the nation’s assessment systems.
In addition to clarifying the flexibilities that are built into the Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority (IADA), he also encourages dialogue with states in a “planning status” prior to submitting a formal application to explore the IADA’s flexibilities through the department’s new lens as well as funding the processes through other federal programs that are becoming more tightly aligned with this work.
To help make the Secretary’s call to innovate actionable, The 74 ran an op-ed from Jennifer Poon and Paul Leather from C!E and Matt Blomstedt, former Nebraska commissioner of education and current principal at Foresight Law+Policy.
The article offers four action steps for state chiefs to leverage federal support as they pursue assessment innovation:
Take the pulse of impacted communities,
Start a dialogue with the U.S. Department of Education,
Leverage other federal programs to fund assessment innovation, and
Seek federal flexibility.
The Department of Education is signaling that it wants to make assessment reform more feasible for states; it’s opened the door for your ideas—now is the time to walk through it and make those ideas a reality.