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

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.”

About Cognia

Cognia is a global, nonprofit improvement organization dedicated to helping institutions and other education providers grow learners, teachers, and leaders. Cognia offers accreditation and certification, assessment, and professional services within a framework of continuous improvement. Serving 36,000 public and private institutions from early learning through high school in more than 90 countries, Cognia brings a global perspective to advancing teaching and learning.