October 01, 2010

(Washington, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen today announced that New Hampshire will receive $1,902,281.94 to extend the NH Department of Education's research and development effort to produce an online assessment system that will meet the needs of all learners, including those who need specialized supports to access academic content.  New Hampshire has been a leader in the development and successful implementation of innovative and promising online student assessment tools that more successfully measure student progress, and will use the funding to continue this critical work.  The two-year grant is part of an effort within the U.S. Department of Education designed to promote the development of student assessment systems that are more responsive to the needs of students and teachers. 

"Every child deserves access to a quality education, but any discussion about improving education has to begin with an understanding of how well our students are learning.  This is particularly true for special needs students for whom traditional assessments just don't do the job," said Shaheen.  "New Hampshire has led the way in the development of innovative assessment tools that are responsive to the specific needs of every student, and I commend the state department of education for this award for their tireless work." 

"This project is an important extension of a NH Department of Education (NHDoE) larger program of research and development of online accessibility tools for instruction and assessment," said New Hampshire Commissioner of Education Virginia M. Barry, Ph.D.  "In recent years, the NHDoE has led the nation in the development and successful implementation of these innovative and promising online tools that have proven very helpful for students who are at risk or have special needs, allowing them to more fully show what they know and can do."

New Hampshire is leading a team of 10 states that will study the effectiveness of a wide variety of online and computer-based educational tools for instruction and assessment, and then disseminate the information nationally.  The goals of the project include: a) improving educator understanding of accessibility options that are available in computer-based test delivery environments; b) providing tools that allow educators to work individually with students to explore test accessibility features that may help improve access for each individual student during testing; c) creating better opportunities for students to develop familiarity and comfort using computer-based test accessibility tools prior to testing; and d) providing educators with empirical evidence that a selected tool or set of tools benefits the student while performing test items.

To accomplish these goals, officials from the 10 states (NH, VT, ME, RI, CT, MT, UT, SC, MD, and FL), and experts from the University of Oregon, Boston College, the National Center for Educational Outcomes, CAST, Measured Progress, Nimble Assessment Systems, ETS, American Printing House for the Blind, and Gallaudet University, will work collaboratively to develop, validate, and disseminate the assessment system.

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