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31 states seek standardized academic exam

Associated Press / June 24, 2010

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SEATTLE — Thirty-one states have banded together to compete for a federal grant to create a series of new national academic tests to replace the current patchwork system.

Currently, every state gives a different test to its students. In some states, including Massachusetts, passing the exam is a graduation requirement.

The federal government has said it will award up to two grants of up to $160 million to create a testing system based on proposed new national academic standards in reading and math.

Washington state is submitting the application on behalf of the group of states.

The coalition’s proposal describes a testing system different from what is happening in most states in a number of ways:

■ Testing would be online and given at least twice a year to help teachers and parents track student progress.

■ The exams would adapt to measure each student’s abilities. It is expensive technology that most individual states could not afford on their own.

■ Teachers would be given other tools for ongoing, informal assessment to help them figure out if students are learning on a daily basis.

Individual states will still determine whether to use the high school test as a graduation requirement, said Chris Barron, spokesman for the Washington state education department.

“These funds will go a long way to building the innovative system we need to help our children succeed,’’ Washington Governor Chris Gregoire said in a statement.