South Carolina is part of two state groups to get $330 Million in federal funds over four years to develop new testing. The test will be aligned with the Common Core Standards that were recently headed by the ntaion's governors and chief state school officers. South Carolina as well as 36 other states adopted these standards with more states expected to sign on by the end of the year. The test would be used to measure students knowledge of math and English from third grade through high school. They will be computer based and will measure high order skills including the students ability to read complex text, synthesize information, and do reserch projects.
About $160 Million is going to be given to the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) with Washington State as the fiscal agent. $170 Million was awarded to the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) with Florida as the fiscal agent. There are several states with overlapping membership in two consortia involving forty four states. SBAC is working on for 31 states that is focusing on computer technology that students specific questions based on their previous answers. They will continue to use a test at the end of the year for accountability, but will create a series of interim test to inform students, parents, and teachers about the students progress and if they are on track. PARCC is working for 26 states and will forcus on testing reading complex text, research projects, excel at classroom speaking and listening assignments, and work with digital media. PARCC will replace the high states end of the year test with a number of assessments throughout the year that will be averaged into one score. This will reduce the weight of a test given in one day and provide information to students and teacher over the course of a year.
The two groups are to compete and both are similar but not identical. Secretary Dunca said "the new assessments are not pilot programs, but will be implemented in participating states by the 2014-2015 school year."
State of South Carolina Superintendent Jim Rex states "Both of these proposals seek to be proactive in tracking student progress. Our state will make a decision about consortia membership- to remain a member of one or neither of them- after our new governor and superintendent take office in January. if we opt out, we would continue to administer our state-developed tests based on the Common Core Standards."
Secretary Duncan set aside $350 Million from billions that Congress voted on last year for Race to the Top grant competition to finance the testing initiative and it is unclear what the Federal government will do with the remaining $20 Million not given to either group.