SMARTER Balanced and PARCC to Launch New Technology Readiness Tool to Support Transition to Online Assessments
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SMARTER Balanced and PARCC to Launch New Technology Readiness Tool to Support Transition to Online Assessments

OLYMPIA, Wash. — January 31, 2012 —

The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) today announced they have awarded a contract to Pearson to develop a new Technology Readiness Tool to support states as they transition to next-generation assessments. This new open source tool, with the assistance of the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), will support state education agencies as they work with local education agencies to evaluate and determine needed technology and infrastructure upgrades for the new online assessments to be launched by the two consortia in the 2014-15 school year.

"Online assessments offer states and school districts clear advantages, including expanded item types, timely feedback to inform instruction, and improved accommodations for students with special needs," said Joe Willhoft, Executive Director of SMARTER Balanced. "To be successful, however, careful planning and management of the transition process is a must. That's why both consortia are working with state and local education leaders from around the country to develop this new, free tool to help states facilitate the evaluation of current technology and infrastructure for online testing."

SMARTER Balanced and PARCC both received grants from the federal Race to the Top Assessment Program to work with states to create next-generation, comprehensive assessment systems. The development of the Technology Readiness Tool is one component of their initiatives to establish infrastructure and content for common online assessments. Intended to launch in spring 2012, the tool will be developed using open source technology, allowing the consortia free access to the source code. Data will be collected twice annually through 2014 to provide updated information on technology and infrastructure readiness.

"Navigating any type of educational change is a complicated process and the move to online assessments brings with it great opportunities and unique challenges," said Laura Slover, Senior Vice President at Achieve, which is the project management partner for the PARCC consortium. "Both test consortia are focused on providing the tools and resources to remove any potential roadblocks for states as they move through the transition process."

Both consortia are working with their member states to develop next-generation assessments that align to the new Common Core State Standards and accurately measure student progress toward college and career readiness. Use of the tool will allow local schools to capture and report key readiness indicators, including: number and type of computers; local network and bandwidth infrastructure; and local staff resources and other information needed to evaluate overall technology readiness for the coming transition to digital delivery of assessments. The consortia are collaborating with SETDA to work with Pearson to support its deployment by providing states and school districts with multiple training resources and a communications campaign.

“With their investment in the development of this Technology Readiness Tool, the leaders of SMARTER Balanced and PARCC will put states and school districts on a path toward successfully implementing next-generation assessments," said Douglas Kubach, President and CEO, the Assessment and Information group of Pearson. "At Pearson we are deeply committed to contributing our vision and expertise to support the transition to online assessments.”

About SMARTER Balanced

The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium brings together states to create a common, innovative assessment system for mathematics and English language arts/literacy that is aligned with the Common Core State Standards and helps prepare students for college and careers. The Consortium involves educators, researchers, policymakers, and community groups in a transparent and consensus-driven process to help all students thrive in a knowledge-driven global economy. The Consortium's projects are funded through a four-year, $175 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, comprising 99 percent of activity resources, with the remaining support provided through generous contributions of charitable foundations. Membership is open to any interested U.S. state. For more information, please visit


PARCC is an alliance of states working together to develop common assessments serving nearly 25 million students. PARCC's work is funded through a four-year, $185 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Partners include about 200 higher education institutions and systems representing hundreds of campuses across the country that will help develop the high school component of the new assessment and then put it to good use as an indicator of student readiness. PARCC is led by its member states and managed by Achieve, a nonprofit group with a 15-year track record of working with states to improve student achievement by aligning K-12 education policies with the expectations of employers and the postsecondary community. PARCC’s ultimate goal is to make sure all students graduate from high school college- and career-ready. For more information, visit

About Pearson

Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, has global reach and market-leading businesses in education, business information and consumer publishing (NYSE: PSO). For more information about the Assessment & Information group of Pearson, visit

For more information, press only:

SMARTER Balanced
Eddie Arnold, (202) 330-6232,
Chad Colby, (202) 419-1570,
Adam Gaber, 800-745-8489,, @apgaber (twitter)