SALT LAKE CITY — A coalition of 31 states, including Utah, was awarded $160 million in federal funding to develop an adaptive testing system for use in public schools.

Judy Park, associate superintendent for student services and federal programs for the Utah State Office of Education, cochairs the executive committee of the partnership of states known as the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium. Utah was one of two states that applied for and received federal Race to the Top money to develop an assessment system.

The tests the consortium plans to develop will be administered on a computer and given multiple times a year to students in grades 3-8 and 11, and will provide real-time results and a chance to chart student progress throughout the school year.

"The immediate assessment results will provide teachers the information they need to adapt their instruction to the needs of each student," Park said. "Those results will also improve student motivation during the testing process and help students better understand their current knowledge and skills."

One of the purpose for designing the adaptive assessment tests is to help teachers better understand their students' strengths and weaknesses. Rather than a set list of questions, the computer-adaptive tests will change depending on how a student answers a question. If the student answers a question correctly, the next question will be more difficult than had they answered it incorrectly.

The consortium is tied to the Common Core Standards initiative, which seeks to develop a set of national learning standards.

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