Print this Page


Operational Best Practices for Statewide Large-Scale Assessment Programs 2013 Edition

Publication dateSeptember 2013
publication pdfClick here to purchase this publication.

In June 2006, the Association of Test Publishers (ATP) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) started discussing a set of voluntary, non-regulatory best practices for states and testing companies to use to strengthen implementation and quality of statewide testing programs in the United States conducted under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The result - the original Operational Best Practices for Statewide Large-Scale Assessment Programs - was published in June 2010.

The 2010 Best Practices has been widely used by States and publishers, for training and for considering changes to state testing programs.  The US Government Accountability Office relied heavily on the Best Practices in conducting its 2012 survey dealing with state test security issues, as it reported.  See "K-12 Education: States' test Security Policies and Procedures Varied," GA)-13-495R (May 16, 2013).

The 2013 edition now addresses "technology-based assessments" - assessments delivered and/or taken by computer, including so-called "online" assessments, as well as those that are cached or remotely handled.  The updated book also deals with programs using both technology-based and paper-based assessments.

The 2013 edition revises many chapters to set forth best practices related to technology-based assessments in a comprehensive manner that is parallel to those practices included in the 2010 edition for paper-based assessments. This update covers many areas, from program management, to item development and banking, to delivery, to administration, to scoring and reporting.  But numerous other topics related to the use of technology-based assessments also have been expanded or modified: new problems in program design, new practices for test security, and the need to handle test accommodations for special populations. Moreover, the challenges and complexities of accommodations are handled through the concept of accessibility for all students.

Further, the focus on technology means that components of technology systems (e.g., hardware, software, communications networks) and assessment programs need to be interoperable with one another (e.g., for the smooth exchange of data and content), so a new chapter on interoperability is included. Finally, the new edition includes a pre-chapter on "State Considerations for Assessment Program Design," to provide a basic checklist for a state to follow before it even prepares an RFP to select a service provider.  Although states will be the principle user of this checklist, service providers will also find this material instructive to gain an understanding about how states will go about the process of evaluating and modifying their current assessment programs when state laws change or when the assessment consortia activities come online.   

Inasmuch as the scope of the Operational Best Practices is limited to large-scale state assessment programs, the ATP and CCSSO acknowledge that this document may not be precisely applicable to all testing protocols and systems, including those used on an international basis. Nevertheless, sponsoring organizations believe that this document provides a solid framework from which others might seek to define a set of practices tailored to their testing programs; accordingly, ATP and CCSSO encourage others to use this document for that purpose. 

 Share your thoughts on the 2013 Edition, click here!

Contact:Adam Petermannadam.petermann@ccsso.org202-336-7076