Vendors to Compete for Common-Core ‘Speaking and Listening’ Tests

Senior Editor


One of the two consortia of states crafting common-core tests is seeking proposals from vendors to develop assessments of students’ speaking and listening skills, as part of a contract worth up to $1.5 million.

The request for proposals put forward by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers is part of a lineup of “non-summative” tests and tools being developed by the consortium.

That means the speaking and listening assessment is separate from the yearly state tests that are being developed by PARCC, scheduled to be administered during the 2014-2015 academic year. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, the other group developing summative exams slated to begin that year, is planning to assess listening as part of its state tests measuring English/language arts and literacy, said Jacqueline King, a spokeswoman for the consortium. It will not be assessing speaking, because of logistical constraints, she said.]

PARCC’s goal, after originally seeking to deliver the speaking and listening assessments that same year, is now to administer them a year later, in 2015-16. Those tests are meant to provide information to parents and students about students’ speaking and listening abilties, as well as to schools, so they can use the information to improve instruction.

According to the RFP, the organization that wins the contract will be expected to come up with a sound assessment design, review and develop items, field-test the assessments and analyze data, and come up with research and materials needed to score and interpret the results, among other duties.

Students will be asked to show their speaking and listening in different ways, depending on the grade level. For instance, one task, given to students in grades, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11, will ask them to listen to a pre-recorded speech or media presetnation and give oral responses to questions and discussions on the topics in the speech.

[Clarification: I’ve clarified my description of the two consortia’s summative tests, above, to make it clear that Smarter Balanced plans to include an assessment of listening as part of its state tests in 2014-2015.]

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