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Education Recovery and Reinvestment Center

State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) Assurances

Our Services

Learning Point Associates offers two core services related to the SFSF assurance for standards and assessment:

  • Curriculum Alignment Services
  • Surveys of the Enacted Curriculum

Standards and Assessments

The ARRA requires governors to submit applications to the U.S. Department of Education for funds under the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF). In doing so, they must provide a number of assurances. The assurance described here addresses support for struggling schools, and this section seeks to provide supports to states as they complete their applications. According to ARRA, "The State

(A) will enhance the quality of the academic assessments it administers pursuant to section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA (20 U.S.C. 6311(b)(3)) through activities such as those described in section 6112(a) of such Act (20 U.S.C. 7301a(a));

(B) will comply with the requirements of paragraphs (3)(C)(ix) and (6) of section 1111(b) of the ESEA (20 U.S.C. 6311(b)) and section 612(a)(16) of the IDEA (20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(16)) related to the inclusion of children with disabilities and limited English proficient students in State assessments, the development of valid and reliable assessments for those students, and the provision of accommodations that enable their participation in State assessments; and

(C) will take steps to improve State academic content standards and student academic achievement standards consistent with section 6401(e)(1)(9)(A)(ii) of the America COMPETES Act." [ARRA Section 14005(d)(4)(A-C)]

Following are strategies states can consider in meeting the requirements of improving assessment quality, developing valid and reliable assessments for children with disabilities and English language learners, and increasing the level of rigor in its standards to address college and work readiness needs.

Enhancing Assessment Quality

Addressing the issue of assessment quality requires states to engage in conversations about both a balanced assessment system and valid alternative assessments. As state academic standards come to demand more complex "performances" from students where content knowledge must actually be applied in skillful ways, the kinds of assessment grow more complex and require stronger support in the form of state-based models and state-driven training for teachers.

Balanced Assessment System. As state content standards become more rigorous to respond to the increasing knowledge demands of the 21st century economy, the traditional methods of assessment continue to decrease in their ability to capture the full extent of student learning. A balanced assessment system that incorporates multiple measures of learning can provide a more complete picture of student learning. We found the following resources useful in our work and believe they provide information that can assist states in their conversations and efforts in developing balanced assessment systems:

Valid Alternative Assessment. States must also be able to more fully capture the learning of students with disabilities and students with limited English proficiency. The following resources provide information that can assist states in their conversations and efforts in developing alternative assessments:

The following organizations can provide additional information about high-quality assessments:

Aligned Approach to Standards, Assessment, and Accountability

Clearly articulated standards drive strong accountability and assessment. Curriculum framework and other supports assist educators as they align instruction to standards and assessments to provide formative and summative measures of studentsÕ mastery of the standards. In the absence of this alignment, accountability systems are driven by accountability tests, which often overrepresent easier-to-measure material.

Learning Point Associates is uniquely suited to assist states as they work to align state standards, instruction, and assessment. Our staff will help you assess the extent to which standards, curriculum, and assessment are aligned and work with stakeholders to increase alignment.

The following resources provide information to assist state conversations around increasing curricular alignment:

Increasing Rigor and Relevance in Academic Content Standards

Many states are now engaged in important revisions of their academic content standards in order to increase the level of rigor and relevance. These revisions are necessary to meet the new expectations for success in the 21st century global economy.

Increasing Rigor. This next generation of standards is more explicit, based on research and experience, rather than just the opinions of academics, and will be based on expectations that create additional pathways to postsecondary success. We have found the following resources useful in our work assisting states in their conversations and efforts in establishing more rigorous standards:

Increasing Relevance. High school graduates must be prepared for the demands of the 21st century-whether these demands come from postsecondary education or the workforce. The need to integrate 21st century skills into the traditionally academic expectations for postsecondary success should be an expectation of every governor. Funds should be used to support this work because students will benefit directly and the state will benefit through a workforce with more valuable skills and an educational system more attractive to new citizens and to new business.

The following resources provide information to assist state conversations and efforts in increasing the relevance of state content standards to 21st century expectations:

The following organizations can provide additional resources on rigorous college- and career-ready standards:

Developing State Consortia to Leverage Resources

In order to leverage knowledge and resources, governors should also encourage the development of standards and assessments in consortia with other states. The inefficiency of every state doing this development work individually needs to be overcome by strong leadership from each state. Every state has an economy that must be competitive globally and every student deserves the ability to succeed in a global workplace. Since all states are members of the Council of Chief State School Officers, they should be encouraged to work with other states on a common core of standards through that organization.

The following resources provide information to assist state conversations for participating in consortia that study standards and assessment:

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