White House Launches $9 Million Grant Contest to Reduce Assessment Burden

The Enhanced Assessment Instruments Grant program is the next step in the president’s action plan to improve the quality of academic assessments.

The quality of state academic assessments has been under scrutiny for quite some time, and now a grant program from the United States Department of Education seeks to innovate and improve annual assessments. The Education Department is allotting almost $9 million in federal grants for states to effectively report scores and reduce unnecessary testing.

The grant program builds on President Obama’s Testing Action Plan released last year. The plan aims to reform redundant standardized tests that are administered too frequently and fail to effectively measure student outcomes. As the next step in the plan, the Enhanced Assessment Instruments grant program, also called the Enhanced Assessment Grants (EAG) program, offers financial support for states to develop and use more effective assessments.

"The President's Testing Action Plan encourages thoughtful approaches to assessments that will help to restore the balance on testing in America's classrooms by reducing unnecessary assessments while promoting equity and innovation," said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. in a news release. "This grant competition is the next step as part of that plan, and will help states and districts improve tests to allow for better depiction of student and school progress so that parents, teachers and communities have the vital information they need on academic achievement." 

The Education Department listed other objectives for the grant program:

  • Collaborate with higher ed institutions, research institutions or other organizations to improve the quality, validity and reliability of state academic assessments;
  • Use a variety of measures to gauge student academic achievement;
  • Document student progress over time; and
  • Develop comprehensive academic assessment instruments like performance and technology-based tools to evaluate student academic achievement.

State education agencies and state education consortiums are eligible to apply for the grants. Applicants that address these program objectives "by producing significant research methodologies products or tools, regarding assessment systems, or assessments," will be chosen to receive funding for their projects, according to the department's website. 

Applications are available on Aug. 8. Applicants must submit proposals for the EAG competition by Sept. 22 and winners will be announced in January. Further information is available on the Education Department site.

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Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].