Consortia Updates

shutterstock_210236821The six consortia of states developing new assessments are each focusing on the needs of students with disabilities and English language learners (ELLs) as they move toward their operational assessments. Highlighted here are updates on each of the consortia’s efforts for students with disabilities and ELLs, including ELLs with disabilities.

General Assessment Consortia

The Partnership for Assessments of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) conducted its field test in December in six states. Lessons learned from this administration are included in a document released by PARCC in November, 2014 (see The first operational assessment will start in February, 2015, and performance level setting will occur during the summer. Several accessibility studies are planned for winter 2015. PARCC released a revised Accessibility Features and Accommodations manual in November, 2014 (see and is translating its scripts into 10 languages. A report on the accessibility features and accommodations for students with disabilities, ELLs, and ELLs with disabilities will be available in the future. More information on PARCC can be found at

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) conducted its field test in spring 2014, and completed its standards setting in the summer. Results were released in December, confirming that large gaps in performance for students with disabilities and ELLs existed in the field test results (see Smarter Balanced released an update to its Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations manual in November, 2014 (see Smarter Balanced has released a module on its Individual Student Assessment Accessibility Profile (ISAAP), and is planning webinars on the paradigm shift in its approach to accessibility and accommodations and in using the ISAAP to support accessibility decisions for all students. These will be available on the Smarter Balanced Digital Resources Library. For more information on Smarter Balanced, see

Alternate Assessment Consortia

Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) is a consortium of 20 states committed to creating a unique testing system that is accessible to students with even the most severe cognitive disabilities and sensory impairments. DLM notes that “Traditional multiple-choice testing does not always allow students with significant cognitive disabilities to fully demonstrate their knowledge.” By integrating assessment with instruction during the year and providing a year-end assessment, the DLM system maps student learning aligned with college and career readiness standards in English language arts and mathematics. DLM recently completed a Field Test, in which 11,000 students across the member states participated. The DLM team is currently looking at the data from the field test related to the accessibility features used on the assessment and the implications for future use. DLM conducted one round of cognitive labs with students, and are preparing for another round of cognitive labs this spring. More information on the DLM assessments can be found at

The National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC) is a project led by five centers and 24 states to build an alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS) for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. The goal of the NCSC project is to ensure that students with the most significant cognitive disabilities achieve increasingly higher academic outcomes and leave high school ready for post-secondary options. NCSC recently completed two phases of pilot testing and is finishing analysis of the data from these pilots. The operational assessment will be administered in spring 2015, with standard setting in the summer. More information on the NCSC assessments can be found at


English Language Proficiency Consortia

Assessment Services Supporting ELs through Technology Systems (ASSETS) is a 35-state consortium, building on the work of the WIDA Consortium, to create the next generation of English Language Proficiency tests. WIDA and the ASSETS team are working closely with member states and project partners to prepare for the operational ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 assessment, which will become available in the 2015-16 school year. Through April, districts across the consortium are participating in a second field test of ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 summative assessment and screener items. WIDA will also be conducting an accommodations field test this spring as well as a cognitive lab on English language learners’ keyboarding skills.  Subcommittees comprised of member state representatives are preparing to pilot a Home Language Survey, finalizing a new score report, and revising accommodations and accessibility guidelines for the new assessment. More information on ASSETS can be found online at

The English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA21) is a consortium of 10 states that are working together to develop a new assessment that will best measure English language learners’ mastery of the communication demands of states’ rigorous academic standards. The ELPA21 consortium is committed to supporting educators, member states, and the public as they adopt and implement the English Language Proficiency Standards and college-and career-ready standards. ELPA21’s vision is to provide assessments that best measure English language learners’ mastery of the communication demands of states’ rigorous academic standards. ELPA21 is currently field testing the assessment for grades K-12. Prior to the field test, ELPA21 conducted cognitive labs to better understand students’ experiences with this technology-based assessment that includes innovative item types. ELPA21 is including accessibility features and accommodations on the field test. The accessibility and accommodations manual will be revised based on field test results. For more information on ELPA21, see