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Clearing the Path for Assessment Innovation

The Role of Federal Policy

December 12, 2023

Realizing the full potential of student-centered learning requires transformation of traditional approaches to assessment and accountability.

It is time for policymakers to take a fresh look at these initiatives and take steps – both near- and longer-term – to better leverage federal support for states’ design and use of innovative, student-centered assessments.

To create more equitable assessment and accountability systems that empower and encourage the adoption of new teaching and learning models aligned to student-centered learning, we must shift course and provide a realistic pathway for state and local innovation. Without a clear pathway, educators and communities will lose faith in our systems and millions of federal dollars intended to support assessment innovation will not bear fruit. Now is the time to create the running room states and districts need to try new approaches and demonstrate impact.

The status quo is failing kids; federal policy must evolve to allow schools to give them what they deserve.

In Clearing the Path for Assessment Innovation: The Role of Federal Policy, you will read about:

  • Current federal assessment opportunities such as the Competitive Grants for State Assessments (CGSA) program, the Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority (IADA) and flexibility within the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESSA)
  • Innovation themes from states, including the critical importance of CGSA funding, efforts to leverage assessments to improve instruction and addressing assessment with related professional development
  • Examples of assessment innovation from three states
  • Recommendations for a path forward to build on the groundwork states are laying to foster innovation and opportunity in assessment across the nation

To truly move to student-centered learning at scale, education systems must be redesigned. Federal leaders can make changes that will foster increased innovation. If done well, the stories of today will inform the federal policy of tomorrow, showing us better ways to measure student learning while maintaining a deep commitment to accountability and equity.


This resource was created by the following organizations who collaborate to support education stakeholders in designing and implementing personalized learning and competency-based education systems. Together, we strive for a unified vision of fair education systems that can benefit all children.

Envision Learning Partners

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