The U.S. Department of Education announced today that it will award a $1.6 million Grant for Enhanced Assessment Instruments to the Washington State Office of Public Instruction for a project developed through a partnership between Washington State and edCount, LLC. The project, Evaluating the Validity of English Language Proficiency Assessments (EVEA), will bring together a consortium of five states to build a validity argument and design a series of studies to evaluate alignment between English language proficiency (ELP) standards and assessments.

The EVEA consortium will comprise the departments of education in the states of Washington, Montana, Indiana, Idaho, and Oregon. Each participating state has developed and implemented its own unique ELP standards and assessments, all of which will be evaluated according to the model created for this project. In addition to the consortium’s collective set of validity evaluation priorities, each state will identify individual priorities as well. They will be assigned a dedicated research partner to explore these priorities over the course of EVEA’s 18-month duration. The evaluation instruments and framework created by this work will be disseminated for wider use and replication following the project’s completion.

Other partners on the EVEA project include the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment (NCIEA), the Department of Education at the University of California at Los Angeles, Synergy Enterprises, Incorporated (SEI), and the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE). A panel of experts in English language acquisition, English language proficiency assessment, and approaches to assessment validity evaluation also will convene four times over the project’s duration to guide and inform its direction and focus.

Work for EVEA will begin in October 2009 and take place primarily via an interactive online workspace for the involved partners. Information about the progress and outputs of the project will be visible at this workspace beginning in 2010.