Designing and Evaluating Innovative State Assessment Programs: A Framework for State Education Agencies

Recent years have produced a surge in interest in improving state assessment programs. Many states are designing new assessments. Much of this innovation is aimed at addressing longstanding areas of unhappiness with typical domain-sampled, end-of-year state assessments: States want to streamline assessment activities, enhance the instructional utility of assessment results, and improve assessment experiences for students.

Designing and redesigning state assessment to meet these goals often involves working quickly to meet legislated timelines or legislative turnover. And working quickly often means that good practices—particularly those related to iterative design and program evaluation—can be overlooked.

Without a systematic and robust process of designing and evaluating these programs, educators and policymakers risk losing critical insights into what works well, what’s going wrong, and why. This paper presents a framework that state education leaders can use to design and evaluate an innovative assessment program.