Media Room

For media inquiries, contact:
Mariama Tyler (678) 392-2285, ext. 5774

New Mexico Partners with Cognia to Provide State Assessments in Grades 3-8

The partnership represents a shift to a balanced assessment model that provides educators more relevant and actionable data to improve instruction.

ALPHARETTA, GA—November 14, 2019—The New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) has signed a multiyear partnership with Cognia™, a nonprofit organization, to provide the state’s mathematics and English language arts assessments for grades 3-8.

With the new partnership, the Cognia-developed New Mexico Measure of Student Success and Achievement (NM-MSSA) will replace the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Transition Assessment for Math and English language Arts (TAMELA) as the state’s official student assessments through grade eight in spring 2020. In alignment with recommendations put forth by the New Mexico Student Success Task Force, the NM-MSSA follows a thoughtful transition to facilitate comparability between the prior PARCC and TAMELA results with the results reported from NM-MSSA. The NM-MSSA is designed uniquely for New Mexico and uses a combination of Cognia’s item bank and New Mexico custom development.

Selected after an extensive community input process, the NM-MSSA represents a shift to a balanced assessment model, including integrated interim and formative assessments and extensive data reporting to allow teachers, administrators, and parents to access and understand actionable data before the annual exams are administered in the spring.

“If assessment data is going to have an impact on teaching and learning, it has to have meaning for everyone involved in education—from the superintendent to the classroom teacher—that allows them to act upon information in ways that improve outcomes for students,” says Dr. Stephen Murphy, chief assessment officer of Cognia.  “Our partnership with the New Mexico PED will set the groundwork to connect the dots between assessment and student learning in fuller, richer ways.”

Responsive to Community Needs

New Mexico’s adoption of the Cognia Assessment follows a series of community conversations held across the state in spring 2019. Feedback from more than 800 teachers, administrators, community leaders, parents, students, and business and higher education leaders helped the PED identify the key criteria for the state’s new assessment system, state leaders say.

“We believe this suite of assessments is reflective of stakeholder feedback and will provide more meaningful data about how our students are performing academically,” said New Mexico Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart.  “We are grateful to the public for the thoughtful input provided throughout the process of developing a new assessment system.”

The new tests, which are fully aligned with New Mexico Common Core State Standards, will be delivered using Cognia’s platform, which is already used in the state for the NM Assessment of Science Readiness (NM-ASR) and the Standards Based Assessment (SBA) Spanish Reading Test. They also will include test items developed by New Mexico educators to ensure the assessments are culturally responsive and represent the state’s student population.

Districts, schools, and individual teachers also will have the opportunity to conduct aligned formative assessment throughout the school year by using Cognia “testlets,” miniature assessments which measure specific content standards and provide detailed data on where students are succeeding and where they need support. The testlets, along with interim assessments and support on interpreting data, will provide educators with “reassurance that the data they’re getting is meaningful, aligned with state standards, and actionable in ways which are responsive to student needs,” says Murphy.

Assessment and Educational Improvement

Cognia is the new name of AdvancED | Measured Progress, a nonprofit education improvement organization which offers accreditation and certification, assessment, professional learning and improvement services. “Cognia is all about making data actionable to help educators make decisions that benefit students,” says Dr. Mark A. Elgart, Cognia’s president and CEO. “Through assessments and school quality activities, our common goal is to provide schools and educators with more valid and reliable data which they can act upon to shape instruction in ways that benefit all students.”

Discovery Education Is among the First STEM Organizations To Earn Inaugural Cognia™ STEM Provider Certification

New certification recognizes comprehensive program quality to distinguish STEM providers that meet high standards from other content and service agencies.

ALPHARETTA, GA—November 6, 2019—Today, the school-improvement, assessment, and certification organization Cognia recognized the Charlotte, NC-based Discovery Education as one of the first organizations to earn its inaugural Cognia™ STEM Provider Certification. The certification, launched this year, aims to help school leaders and community stakeholders identify quality providers of STEM programs that:

  • Promote scientific inquiry and engineering design
  • Develop skill sets that transfer across career sectors
  • Bolster students’ capacity for critical thinking and perseverance through complex tasks
  • Engage students deeply in their local community in ways that connect learning to the real world.

“The certification is designed to differentiate organizations that simply put a STEM stamp on their materials and marketing and those that have products and services that meet high standards,” says Dr. Mark Elgart, President and CEO of Cognia. The certification process, Dr. Elgart notes, involves several stages of rigorous internal, external, and on-site review and assessment of performance against standards focused on contributions to the STEM pipeline, STEM learning, connections to real-world applications and community, and program efficacy.

While Cognia accredits schools and school districts and provides certification in a number of areas, including Early Learning STEM and STEM school programs, the new certification is designed to assure quality among content and service providers, including professional development organizations, publishers, after-school providers, university-based STEM learning centers, and others.

“In reviewing Discovery Education—a leading global provider of standards-aligned digital curriculum resources, content, and professional learning—our evaluators were particularly impressed by the expertise and passion the organization brings to its work in extending STEM learning opportunities for young people,” noted Scott Davidson, Senior Director, STEM services at Cognia.

“Discovery Education is proud to earn the Cognia seal of approval,” said Scott Kinney, President of K-12 Education for Discovery Education. “While we are well-known in the STEM field, the certification demonstrates that we have exceeded rigorous expectations and will help set us apart from other programs by education leaders who understand the importance of Cognia STEM Certification.”

Attaining Cognia STEM Provider Certification means that national and international providers meet rigorous standards in four domains of quality:

  • The Stem Pipeline: Certified providers demonstrate that they increase student participation in and partner/stakeholder engagement and support for STEM programs, and bring content experts, developers, and/or staff together to create and improve integrated STEM content.
  • STEM Learning: Certified providers encourage learner collaboration and independence in an inquiry-based learning environment; emphasize self-directed STEM learning guided by skilled educator as facilitators; and embed learners’ use of technology resources to develop skills and competencies related to the STEM workforce.
  • STEM Connections: Certified providers advance interdisciplinary and problem-based curriculum and activities with a focus on real-world applications; extend STEM learning through enrichment and/or extended day or year-long opportunities; demonstrate that learners acquire progressively higher levels of STEM knowledge and skills needed for future success.
  • STEM Program Efficacy: Certified providers offer high-quality training and professional learning associated with STEM curriculum, programming, and/or implementation; have an implementation framework for program participants or specific sites, and use a research- or evidence-based model for program evaluation and planning for continuous improvement.

To develop the certification, Cognia’s design team reviewed the best research available about quality STEM implementation and what constitutes student-directed learning environments, and paid close attention to federal policy guidance on what it takes to create engaged communities of practice and partner networks. The work also builds on Cognia’s STEM School Certification that has evaluated over 200 schools in 24 states during the past five years.

“In the long run, we want to create clarity about what it means to have quality implementation and bring together an ever-growing group of STEM certified institutions as a community of practice to improve the quality of STEM learning in the United States,” Mr. Davidson said. “Our vision is that all students have the opportunity to pave their own path into the future, using STEM skills and knowledge to make their way.”

Discovery Education is part of a select, purposefully diverse group of providers that have earned the certification. The other groups include:

  • a university research center:Center for STEM Education at the University for Notre Dame
  • a school district:Cobb County, GA, STEM and Innovation Department
  • a grant-funded out-of-school program: C2Pipeline at Wayne State University, a school-based program serving 21 metro Detroit high schools that connects students to STEM opportunities

About Discovery Education

Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-aligned digital curriculum resources, engaging content, and professional learning for K-12 classrooms. Through its award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia resources, and the largest professional learning network of its kind, Discovery Education is transforming teaching and learning, creating immersive STEM experiences, and improving academic achievement around the globe. Discovery Education’s services are available in approximately half of U.S. classrooms and primary schools in the U.K. and reach over 5 million educators and 51 million students in more than 90 countries. Inspired by the global media company Discovery, Inc., Discovery Education partners with districts, states, and like-minded organizations to empower teachers with customized solutions that support the success of all learners. Explore the future of education at 

Cognia Celebrates Grand Opening of 40,000 Square-Foot Building II at Its Alpharetta Headquarters

Innovative building houses Cognia’s innovation incubator and assessment scoring center, training rooms, for education seminars and workshops

ALPHARETTA, GA—October 28, 2019—Driving down the 9100 block of Westside Parkway here, you may notice the new “Cognia” sign on the nonprofit’s headquarters. A few hundred yards away from the main building, connected by a walking bridge, you will also see the organization’s recently completed, three-story, 40,000-square foot Building II, which opened for business and tours today.

Cognia—which offers accreditation, assessment, and school-improvement services throughout the United States and in more than 80 countries—began construction on the new building in fall 2018 in anticipation of new services resulting from the 2019 merger of AdvancED and Measured Progress.

“The air bridge that connects the headquarters to the new building,” says Cognia president and CEO Dr. Mark A. Elgart, “symbolizes the organization’s connection to its longstanding history in school improvement and accreditation, while bridging the gap with assessment and innovation. The building will house Cognia’s innovation incubator and assessment scoring center.

“The new building will be the home of our Center for Innovation where research and development intersect with solutions design and strategic partnership development,” said Elgart

Elgart notes that the building also features on the first floor a large pre-function area that leads to two instructional classrooms where educators can come for workshops and seminars —designed to support the education community.

Design and construction

The design, construction, and outfitting of the building was a collaborative process between Cognia staff and the organization’s construction team, including the architecture firm Warren Epstein & Associates and general contractor, JE Dunn Construction Co.—the same contractors that worked with AdvancED on the 2010 construction of the corporate headquarters—in partnership with furniture provider partner, Atlanta’s Office Furniture Expo.

Building II continues Cognia’s green sustainability effort that encompassed the construction the original AdvancED corporate headquarters (2010) from the design to the sourcing of materials locally and regionally.

The building was designed and built with leading-edge technology from the ground up—all with environmental consciousness in mind. A few of the construction facts about the building include:

  • Insulated outside exterior wall panels intricately made and pieced together like a puzzle (These panels overlaid over the steel structure help to control temperature changes.)
  • Low emissive roof which reflects sunlight
  • Low VOC or Volatile Organic Compounds paint cutting down on the harmful gasses emitted by conventional paint thus providing healthier and cleaner air in the building
  • A system that redirects ground water back into the ground preventing storm water run-off into local streams and sewer system
  • LED lighting installed throughout
  • Construction materials made with recycled composite materials

Building II was built over existing parking space, so the goal was to be sustainable in maximizing the site while leaving greenspace untouched.

The new building features some of the same design and construction practices used in the original build of the corporate headquarters but even more technologically advanced.

The third floor has an open design to increase the availability of natural lighting and create a collaborative, open, and creative workspace for everyone. Open stairs connect the floors and enhances the experience of the building allowing staff and guests to never have to go through a door to get to the staircase on each floor. The unique curved-glass staircase features glass panels that had to be measured individually from post-to-post and then fabricated.

Cognia, as it has done in its main headquarters building, will commission local artists to create one-of-a-kind works of art to display throughout the building.

AdvancED l Measured Progress is changing its name to Cognia.

Reflecting its unique knowledge of school quality and student achievement, the recently merged company is introducing new technologies, investing in innovation to help schools continue improving, and streamlining its accreditation process.

ALPHARETTA, GA—August 12, 2019AdvancED | Measured Progress, which was formed as a result of two leading education nonprofits merging in November 2018, announced today that it is changing its corporate name to Cognia™.

The new name comes from the Latin word cognitio, which means knowledge. The name change reflects the nonprofit’s belief that knowledge is the key to helping people reach their aspirations—regardless of circumstance or background.

Cognia was established to fill a crucial gap in education: the need to bridge school evaluations with student assessments in order to see a full picture and improve education in a more comprehensive and holistic way. Cognia offers accreditation and certification, assessment, professional services, and consulting to help schools drive continuous improvement. The organization focuses on innovation to provide more agile solutions for school improvement and to drive better outcomes for all students.

In recent years, the organizations that merged to become Cognia introduced new technology solutions and applications in large-scale and local assessment solutions, low-cost mobile classroom observation tools, and high-powered data dashboards. These innovations support quick access to data on student achievement and engagement, facilitate analysis, and have a positive impact on real-time improvement efforts.

“Education is ever evolving and so are we,” said Dr. Mark Elgart, president and CEO of Cognia. “In addition to our new name and brand identity, we are introducing advancements in how we deliver improvement services to our global network. Cognia clients now have better insights into how to improve school quality, create engaging environments for students, and assess student learning more effectively.”

Today, Cognia also announced initiatives to upgrade its diagnostic improvement platform to include formative assessments for classroom use, plans to enable new options for accreditation, and efforts to expand its diagnostic tools to guide institutions in their improvement efforts.

Thanks to technological improvements in capturing meaningful data related to school quality and student performance, Cognia is developing new accreditation offerings that will transform the experience from an event that happens every five years to one that is integrated into the work of institutions on an ongoing basis. To promote sustainable growth, the new offerings will be tailored to each institution, rather than employing a one-size-fits-all approach. Schools and educational systems that are accredited by AdvancED or its regional accrediting agencies will begin to receive accreditation seals with the new Cognia name.

Cognia is also filling new leadership positions that will continue to build the organization’s capacity for innovation. To be announced in 2020, Cognia’s innovation strategy will help schools and districts accelerate improvement through solutions and tools born from Cognia’s research, field testing, and emerging partnerships.

About Cognia

Cognia offers accreditation and certification, assessment, professional learning, and improvement services to institutions and other education providers. The result of the merger of AdvancED and Measured Progress, Cognia was formed to bridge the gap between school evaluation and student assessment. As a global nonprofit working in over 80 countries, our 36,000 institutions serve and support nearly 25 million students and five million educators every day. Cognia serves as trusted partner in advancing learning for all. Find out more at