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Pearson Releases New White Paper, Considerations for Developing Test Specifications for Common Core Assessments

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — December 8, 2010 —

Pearson, the global leader in education and education technology, today released a white paper developed to help guide U.S. education leaders as they develop large-scale summative assessments based on the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The paper, "Considerations for Developing Test Specifications for Common Core Standards," describes the relationships between the new curriculum standards, which are guidelines for instruction, and test specifications, which are guidelines for the development of sound and effective items and tests.

As the two state consortia that received U.S. Department of Education Race to the Top grants design comprehensive assessment systems that map to the CCSS begin their work, they will grapple with the issues that Pearson identifies and discusses in this paper. The paper includes an expert discussion of each issue and subsequent recommendations for addressing them. Issues discussed include:

  • Common Core Standards
  • Test Focus Relative to Curriculum Standards
  • Roll-up/Reporting Categories
  • Common Core Standards Alignment-Coding
  • Content Validity
  • Item Types
  • Stimulus Types
  • Test Blueprints for Each Subject and Grade
  • Psychometric Specifications
  • Test Administration Modality
  • Performance Scoring Models
  • Accessibility Guidelines
  • Item and Stimulus Review

"The development and state adoption of the new Common Core State Standards is only the first step in building a foundation for transforming education in this country. State and national education policy leaders must now develop well-defined test specifications for assessments that measure student learning relative to the curriculum standards," Said Karen Foelsch, Senior Vice President, Digital Fulfillment Services & Content Support Services, Assessment and Information Group of Pearson. "Our team of content specialists and psychometricians developed this white paper to contribute its expertise to the national effort to convert the new curriculum standards into 21st century assessments."

This white paper is the latest addition to Pearson's new web site, Next-Generation Assessments, which features free access to white papers and other resources developed by Pearson's experts in assessment, instruction and digital learning technologies to help states as they design and deliver new assessment systems that are both innovative and pragmatic. As the global leader in education and education technology, Pearson has provided large-scale assessment services for more than 30 states as well as the U.S. Department of Education, the College Board and the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.

To access a free copy of "Considerations for Developing Test Specifications for Common Core Standards," go to

About Pearson

Pearson (NYSE:PSO), the global leader in education and education technology, provides innovative print and digital education materials for preK through college, student information systems and learning management systems, teacher licensure testing, teacher professional development, career certification programs, and testing and assessment products that set the standard for the industry. Pearson’s other primary businesses include the Financial Times Group and the Penguin Group. For more information about the Assessment & Information group of Pearson, visit