On Wednesday, members of the Assessment Task Force appeared in front of the House Education Committee for a question and answer session follow up to the task force presentation the week before. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend.
However, in preparation for this appearance, the task force created an additional document comparing assessment options and I do have a copy of this to share. Find the first page (overview) here and the remaining pages (comparison table) here.
I want to focus my comments here on the portion of the table comparing the costs of the first year of an assessment system based on either the NGIA or the Smarter Balanced assessments as the summative (end of year/accountability) assessment.
This table illustrates that the Smarter Balanced assessments systems of assessments are less expensive than NGIA-based assessment system, even though the Smarter Balanced assessments have a higher per student cost than the NGIA.
I think the following unstated assumptions are baked into those numbers:
- Iowa’s vendor will match Connecticut’s vendor’s pricing for vendor services.
- Technology costs are zero (either no district or state entity will require technology upgrades to administer statewide online assessments or it is a district decision to upgrade or purchase additional technology not properly attributable to the decision to choose an assessment requiring online administration).
- Costs of science assessments (summative/accountability plus multiple measure) are zero.
- Districts will either stop administering all of those other multiple measures assessments that they have selected for district use or the costs of those assessments shouldn’t be charged to the “assessment system” if they don’t.
This table I think hints at the difficulty we have had creating a completely fair, apples to apples cost comparison of the two assessments. One requires technology, one doesn’t. One has an additional cost for a paper and pencil option (but perhaps not many schools will use it?), one doesn’t. One has a science assessment, one doesn’t. One has a suite of assessment options, one doesn’t. The predecessor to one has additional reporting costs paid by the state which are not included in the per student cost, one doesn’t.
Should we be comparing costs of summative assessments only or assessment systems and why? Which costs should be counted and why? Should technology costs have been included or is it just something districts should be doing anyway?