WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 19, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Thomas B. Fordham Institute has launched a new study to evaluate the quality and content alignment of PARCC, Smarter Balanced, and ACT Aspire to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Fordham's study will be published in summer 2015.

As part of the effort, Fordham will also evaluate the 2014 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), a high-quality state assessment, for Common Core alignment under an agreement with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

"The promise of the Common Core State Standards, implemented faithfully, is improved education and life outcomes for millions of American children," noted Amber Northern, vice president of research. "We need tests that fairly reflect and honor the hard work that we are asking teachers and students to do under the Common Core."

Nancy Doorey (an educational consultant with assessment-policy expertise) and Morgan Polikoff (an assistant professor at the University of Southern California and expert in alignment methods) will lead a team of panel reviewers, including those with expertise in education, assessment, mathematics, and English language arts. Reviewers will analyze test items in grades five and eight in both mathematics and English language arts. In addition to gauging alignment, reviewers will evaluate whether the tests are accessible to all students and ensure transparency of test design.

The study will apply alignment methodology developed by the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment based on the criteria that the Council of Chief State School Officers established for high-quality assessments. The study will include panel scores and comments from reviewers to enhance transparency.

Michael J. Petrilli, president of the Fordham Institute, commented, "States are hungry for reliable information about the new tests that are coming onto the market. We are committed to providing helpful, trustworthy feedback to the field, and we appreciate the willingness of the assessment developers to participate in this critical endeavor."

The study is funded by the Calder, Gates, Helmsley, Hewlett, Lumina, and Schusterman Foundations, along with the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, the sister organization of the Institute.

The Fordham Institute will release the list of panel reviewers in winter 2014. The National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment will publish the study's methodology in spring 2015.

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute is the nation's leader in advancing educational excellence for every child through quality research, analysis, and commentary, as well as on-the-ground action and advocacy in Ohio.

Michelle Lerner,