The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides an opportunity for states to develop innovative assessment and accountability systems to evaluate student and school performance. Congress kept the language for this demonstration authority intentionally vague to ensure that states and districts have the space to innovate and design systems that align to their local vision and needs. Since there is not one “right” way to build an innovative assessment system, it is critical that states and districts establish high-quality processes to improve their systems along the way to maximize positive outcomes for students.
The final regulations for the Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority, released by the U.S. Department of Education in December 2016, emphasize the importance of a high-quality continuous improvement and evaluation process. As such, states and districts will need to develop a robust plan and set of strategies to ensure stakeholders learn from, and continually improve their innovative assessment systems.