U.S. Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor and Representatives Marion Berry (AR-01), Vic Snyder (AR-02) and Mike Ross (AR-04) today announced that Arkansas is one of 26 states that has been selected through the Department of Education's Race to the Top Assessment Competition to develop testing standards that will allow for more accurate measurements of student progress and achievement against standards designed to ensure that all students gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and the workplace.
Race to the Top is an historic federal investment that, through a competitive application process, provides assistance to states for the development and implementation of comprehensive education reforms. A portion of that funding was specifically reserved for the Race to the Top Assessment Competition to support consortia of states that are designing and implementing common, high-quality assessments aligned with a common set of standards to ensure that students are better prepared for college and a career.
Arkansas will participate in one of two consortiums that were selected, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College. This group of states will test students' ability to read complex text, complete research projects, excel at classroom speaking and listening assignments, and work with digital media. The assessments that are developed by the partnership will also replace the one, end-of-year high stakes accountability test with a series of assessments throughout the year that will be averaged into one score for accountability purposes. The effect of this change will be to reduce the weight given to a single test administered on a single day, proving valuable information to students and teachers throughout the year.
"There is no issue more intricately connected to the future prosperity of our nation than the quality of our public schools," Lincoln said. "A skilled and educated workforce is critical if we are to create new jobs in Arkansas and sustain economic growth over the long-term. We know there is ample room for improvement in our current education system, and that is why I am proud that Arkansas will have the opportunity to work with other states to develop and implement new tools to help our students succeed."
"A strong education system is the foundation of a strong community, giving our children the tools they need to become the next generation's innovators and business creators," Pryor said. "Last week I met with Education Secretary Duncan and Arkansas teachers to discuss various initiatives to improve our schools. The Race to the Top program holds a lot of potential, and I'm pleased Arkansas will be able to participate."
"I believe it is a great service to our children and the future of Arkansas that we are getting to participate in this program to improve our public education system," Berry said. "Working together with other states to develop better student progress measurements will help teachers identify where their students may be struggling, and ultimately lead to better success in the classroom. The earlier we can address problems in our schools, the better we will set up our students for success in college and beyond."
"Our local school districts are important components of our communities and our children's futures," Ross said. "I am pleased to announce that Arkansas has been selected to participate in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College. Our student's participation in this program will help ensure our students and teachers have the best learning environment possible."
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College will receive $169,990,272. The funds will go to the consortium, which will spend the funds on developing assessments around common standards. Arkansas will then be able to use the assessments that are developed.