Assessment | News

Department of Ed Awards $708 million in Contracts for Nation's Report Card Assessments

The National Center on Education Statistics, the primary federal agency in charge of collecting and analyzing data related to education, has just awarded several multi-million dollar contracts to five education and testing companies as part of a five-year contract to administer the next generation of assessments for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

The NAEP assessments are given to a representative sample of fourth, eighth, and 12th grade students. For example, a 2011 writing assessment tested 24,100 eighth graders from 950 schools and 28,100 12th graders from 1,220 schools. The goal of the NAEP is to provide a "common yardstick" to assess the educational progress across state and district lines of students in math, reading, science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography, and United States history to track progress over time. For 2014, the NAEP will also add technology and engineering literacy to its areas of testing.

The contracts are going to:

  • Educational Testing Services (ETS), which will handle planning and coordinating ($26 million), design, analysis, and reporting ($91 million), and item development ($52 million);
  • Westat, which will do sampling and data collection ($321 million) and handle support and service ($36 million);
  • NCS Pearson, which will create materials and do distribution, processing, and scoring ($122 million);
  • Fulcrum IT Services, which will handle Web and technology development and operations and maintenance ($52 million); and
  • Business Intelligence, which will perform scheduling ($8 million).

The next five years will be a transformational period for the assessment program, according to Jay Campbell, executive director of the NAEP program at ETS. "We will need to quickly, efficiently, and effectively move most of NAEP assessments to computer and/or device delivery. But this transformation is not just about moving from paper to computer. The Department of Education expects, and we are ready to deliver, new and innovative assessment content that leverages technology to enhance what can be measured and reported about students' educational progress."

Campbell added that the new assessments will "leverage advances in cognitive science, computer technologies, and the science of measurement."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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