- The U.S. Department of Education has approved a one-year extension on a waiver from testing regulations that has freed up the state of New Hampshire to pilot competency-based assessments.
- In announcing the extension, the Department of Education reported nine districts across the state will administer the competency-based assessments in reading/language arts, math and science, except each student must take the traditional tests once in elementary, middle and high school.
- Existing regulations require every student in a state to take the same assessment, so New Hampshire needed a waiver to move forward with its development of more innovative testing methods, which the Obama administration has lauded in a push for “next-generation assessments.”
The Every Student Succeeds Act allows seven states to pilot new assessments in a portion of districts. New Hampshire has provided an early example of how much work it takes to develop new assessments and pilot them while planning to scale up statewide. New York has expressed interest in the pilot, but the much larger state is expected to have a very hard time with implementation, given its population.
Online assessments that offer adaptive testing, tailoring future questions based on student performance in real-time, were once considered next-generation assessments. The Smarter Balanced assessments are adaptive and claim a more customized measurement of student skill. Now, next-generation assessments are more often referring to competency-based models or portfolios of student work. In this evolving field, districts are likely to see more ideas in coming years.