Peer Review for State Assessment Systems
The requirement continues for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to conduct peer reviews of state standards and assessment systems. This peer review process is designed to ensure assessment systems:
- Measure student achievement in reading/English language arts and mathematics in grades 3–8 and at least once in high school.
- Measure student achievement in science at least once in grades 3–5, 6–9, and 10–12.
- Measure the English language proficiency of all English learners in the state
- Include assessments that are aligned with the full range of state academic content standards.
- Include assessments that are valid, reliable, and consistent with relevant, nationally recognized professional and technical standards.
Each state must submit evidence of how the state develops and administers statewide assessments, as well as data and evidence confirming the technical quality of the state’s assessment system. Evidence is submitted to demonstrate how a state’s assessment system corresponds with each of seven critical elements:
- Statewide System of Standards and Assessments
- Assessment System Operations
- Technical Quality – Validity
- Technical Quality – Other
- Inclusion of All Students
- Academic Achievement Standards and Reporting
- Locally Selected, Nationally Recognized High School Academic Assessments
The seventh critical element – Locally Selected, Nationally Recognized High School Academic Assessments – is only applicable to states who are using such an assessment as part of their statewide system.
The peer review process is conducted by external assessment experts, state and local assessment directors, and educators. During the peer review process, reviewers will examine state-submitted evidence and gauge how well each state meets each critical element. Reviewers will share these notes with ED for decision-making, and ED will provide formal feedback on its review and decision with each state.
Spotlight last updated September 30, 2019.
CSAA Support Resources
Reports and guidance found below can support state education agency staff and technical assistance providers as they prepare for peer review submissions.
This resource analyzes the information contained in the decision letters issued by ED on each state’s assessment system. The Critical Elements (CE) Analysis chart – available as an Excel file download – allows users to compare feedback received in assessment peer review decision letters across states and/or CEs for which additional documentation was requested.
This resource provides insight into peer review requirements and how states might demonstrate their assessment practices meet these requirements. Links to resources and state examples are included to enhance understanding of how to implement and document assessment practices that meet peer review requirements.
This document describes and supports the submission development process. It includes suggestions for collecting, analyzing, and cataloguing documents that might address the Critical Elements states must meet. A description of the process states must follow when submitting their peer review submission is also included.
To accompany this document, the Peer Review Evidence Organizer supports catalogue documentation for peer review submissions and how each addresses a Critical Element. States might use this tool to organize documents and develop text for the state peer review submission.
This resource provides an overview of the peer review process, including required critical elements. It also contains information on how CSAA can support states in documenting how each critical element can be addressed and met, and lists resources states can use to support the documentation process.
These briefs provide an overview of the feedback the U.S. Department of Education (ED) provided to states that administered the ACT as part of their statewide assessment system. To administer the ACT, states need approval from ED to ensure peer review requirements are met.
- This April 2017 brief summarizes the feedback given to Wisconsin and Wyoming; two states who provided early indication of ACT use.
- This September 2019 brief summarizes the feedback given to seven states that planned to administer the ACT as part of their statewide assessment system.
These reports summarize decision letters previously sent to states regarding the peer review of state assessment systems – including identification of the Critical Elements for which states needed to submit additional evidence.
- This July 2017 report provides a summary of 37 state decision letters.
- This September 2019 report provides a summary of the decision letters previously sent to all 50 states.