GOVERNING BOARD OF THE PARTNERSHIP FOR THE ASSESSMENT OF READINESS FOR COLLEGE AND CAREERS REQUEST FOR INFORMATION (RFI)
SUBMISSIONS DUE: MARCH 11, 2016
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Over the past five years, the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) consortium has worked collaboratively to develop a world-class assessment system supported by state-of-the-art platforms, providing teachers with unprecedented tools and resources to tailor instruction based on the results of the assessments. The test was administered this past year to five million students across 11 states plus the District of Columbia. Now, for the first time, states can compare student outcomes across borders. Additionally, parents and teachers are getting more detailed breakouts of students’ strengths and weaknesses in math and English, providing a much more accurate picture of college readiness and the path to readiness. Over the next year, the Partnership states aim to build on this solid foundation and successful record to sustain a 21st century, high-quality test focused on the skills that matter most for success in college, career, and life.
In November 2015, the Partnership states collectively announced new options for states to access high- quality summative content, starting in the 2016-17 school year. The release included a tiered system of product offerings that responds to the immediate needs of states as they enter their next procurement cycle. See Attachment A for details.
The Partnership states also announced their intent to identify a potential structure that would allow for all states to continue to create high-quality assessment content collaboratively, while offering greater flexibility and access to that content for any state seeking to strengthen its summative assessment.
The purpose of this Request for Information (RFI) is to gather input to inform a potential Request for Proposal (RFP) that will identify an appropriate, qualified vendor(s) for providing products and services as outlined in the RFI details below.
The RFI requests respondents to provide written feedback on:
- Sector capacity to offer some or all of the proposed components of the potential model
- Suggested modifications to the proposed model
- Timeline to operationalize the proposed model
- Additional considerations to factor when refining the proposed model
Section 3 outlines a proposed model for a go-forward structure committed to expanding and enhancing the existing assessment system. The go-forward model is subject to modification upon review of all feedback provided through this RFI. Specific questions for feedback response are listed below each component of the model within Section 3. More information about response format and content can be found in section “4. Response Requirements.”
On our public forum call on Tuesday, February 16, Secretary Skandera said that responses to the RFI will be held as confidential. While responses to the RFI will not be publicly posted, they will be subject to the District of Columbia’s Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, DC Code §§ 2-531-539. Please identify any sections in your response containing confidential proprietary information that could result substantial harm to your competitive position if publicly disclosed, and, if warranted, the appropriate FOIA exemptions will be applied in the event of a FOIA request.
This is a non-competitive, non-binding RFI. This RFI is issued for information and planning purposes only and does not constitute a solicitation. Replies to the RFI will not be considered official offers, nor will replies result in an award of services.
3. Proposed Model Design – Feedback Requested
3.1 Guiding Principles and Scope of Services
The Partnership states are seeking to identify a structure committed to expanding and enhancing the existing assessment system, ensuring that all states have access to a customizable high-quality summative test. “Structure,” for the purposes of this document, is defined as an organization or an initiative within an organization that provides content and/or services to states as a group and individually. The structure is designed to enable:
- Stability: The new structure will provide states the ability to access and contribute high-quality test items without requiring states to formally or publicly “affiliate” with the structure;
- Sustainability: The new structure will have the capacity to support states with content development, as well as guarantee the protection of test items from Intellectual Property misuse. Additionally, over time the structure’s business model will acquire earned income sufficient to support the operating requirements of the organization;
- Comparability: The new structure will serve as a qualified, neutral, third-party partner with the ability to provide expertise so that states can make comparability claims; and
- Economies of Scale: The new structure will adhere to a system that incentivizes states to contribute items to achieve economies of scale
By adhering to these guiding principles, the new structure will provide states with the ability to create a customizable, high-quality, standards-aligned assessment that remains cost-effective and flexible enough to respond to varied economic and political realities. Furthermore, through expanded access to these items, states maintain the opportunity to learn together as a community to improve the assessment content and process.
The Partnership states are seeking to create a new model that:
- expands access to the highest-quality test content to all states
- allows states more choices and the ability to customize their test
- maintains test quality and comparability across states
- allows for and enables state collaboration on content creation
- ensures states benefit from economies of scale
- creates stability and sustainability for states in the development and delivery of high quality assessments
Subject to the feedback from this RFI, the Partnership states intend to release a RFP for a structure that could provide products and services which include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Develop high-quality, rigorous, summative content aligned to states’ college- and career-ready standards;
- Collect, store, and manage the inventory and security of summative content (some of which will be developed by participating states) in a central Item Bank Management System;
- Curate the quality of all summative test items to be administered in the summative exam;
- Provide advisory services to states related to the terms and guidelines for state comparability and comparisons claims; and
- Make such content available to states, through licensing, for secure use in their state standardized assessments
3.2 Ownership of Products and Services
The structure will serve as a neutral third party to securely hold all items previously developed by the PARCC consortium states under the Race to the Top Assessment grant, as well as items thereafter contributed to the structure’s item bank by states working individually or in collaboration. Additionally, the structure will own all summative content in the item bank to maintain continuity and stability of the content. However, each state can legally claim to own the copyright and be content co-owner of items it individually contributes to the item bank (i.e., items contributed by states would be co-owned by the structure and the individual state that developed the item).
- Please provide any feedback on the benefits and challenges to the structure owning all content created.
- Please provide feedback on the benefits and risks associated with co-ownership of content that states independently create, as well as alternative ownership structures that effectively limit test security risk.
3.3 Development, Access, Use of Products and Services
Summative content used in testing blueprints, content blocks, and/or as individual items will be created by both the structure and states. States that contribute items to the item bank will, in return, be able to access and use a full summative form, content blocks, and/or other individual items comprised of state- created and/or state-reviewed content. All items developed individually or collaboratively by states will be quality curated by the structure prior to final inclusion in the item bank. States will be able to review and modify rejected items and resubmit them to the structure.
- Please provide feedback on the proposed model for content development, highlighting the pros and cons to a structure that invites state-led and structure-created content development.
- Please provide feedback on the proposed model for access to and use of content – highlighting the pros and cons of a structure that allows differentiated access to and use of content based on involvement in the content development process.
3.4 Operating Model
States’ engagement with the structure and their state-procured vendors will vary based on the types of products and services they procure. The proposed operating model for the structure includes multiple pathways for states to engage with the structure, including an “association” model – one where states can visibly declare affiliation with a high-quality content curator and provider (referred to as “affiliates”).
States can choose from several potential payment and procurement options to reliably secure a contract with the structure:
- Direct Pay: States can pay a fee to the structure for summative content and/or services related to the coordination and support of a multi-state summative assessment effort, including maintaining forums for collaboration on summative policy, design, and administration topics and sharing of best practices. These fees can be paid directly to the structure or procured through an RFP process, depending on state procurement laws.
- Vendor Pass Through: States can procure a test administration vendor and “pass through” fees to the structure for summative content and/or services related to the coordination and support of a multi-state summative assessment effort.
- Please offer your perspective on the aspects of the proposed operational model that will increase procurement efficiency and effectiveness, as well as aspects that might present procurement challenges.
- Please describe any recommended changes to the proposed operating model, highlighting the pros and cons of a model that allows payment “pass throughs” via a procured vendor, specifically.
The structure must enable clear, efficient, and effective decision-making processes, allowing it to execute decisions in a timely manner and sustain a high-quality test, while, at the same time, ensuring that affiliate states have a hand in shaping the test and policies around it.
The structure will solicit input from affiliate states to inform the strategic direction and key decisions related to test design, development, administration, and scoring/reporting policies and procedures. For example, while the structure’s Board of Directors will be chosen by its leadership (and key partners), affiliate states will have the opportunity to elect or nominate a small subset of the structure’s Board. For organizations with an existing Board structure, a separate governing committee or Board may be designated.
Response Requested: Please describe the aspects of the proposed governance model that seem feasible as well as any recommendations for further improvement.
3.6 Sector Capacity and Additional Considerations
Response Requested:Based on your understanding of the products, services, and operational model detailed in Section 3:
- Please provide your perception of sector capacity to offer some or all of the proposed components of the model.
- Please provide details related to the timeframe required to execute the proposed model.
- Please provide any additional considerations not outlined in the RFI that should be factored when designing this model.
4. Response Requirements
4.1 RFI Responses
RFI responses may be submitted in WORD format and organized as follows:
a) Cover Letter – The respondent should provide a cover letter (limited to no more than one page in length) that includes the following information:
- Contact name
- Phone #
- E-mail address
- Mailing address
- Note: Provide additional contact persons as needed.
b) “Response Requested” Responses – The respondent should submit all responses with following information:
- The section of the “Response Requested” prompt (e.g., 3.1 Guiding Principles and Scope of Services)
- The prompt the response corresponds to (e.g., Please provide feedback on the Guiding Principles, including anything you feel is missing and any limitations you may be aware of based on your knowledge of the field.)
- Response to the prompt
Responses can be submitted via email or in electronic format via mail or overnight delivery. Email responses should be sent to email@example.com. E-mail submissions must be clearly labeled in the subject line with “RFI Response – <organization name>.”) Mail and overnight mail should be sent to the following address:
Governing Board c/o Maisha Hayes
Office of the State Superintendent of Education 810 First St NE, 9th fl
Washington, DC 20002
4.1 Notice of Intent
Organizations interested in responding to a potential RFP informed by the RFI responses are asked to submit an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 4, 2016, 5:00 PM ET indicating their intent. E-mail submissions must be clearly labeled in the subject line with “Notice of Intent – <organization name>.”) The Notice of Intent is required of any organization that plans to respond to the potential RFP. Additionally, the Notice of Intent is non-binding and therefore will not mandate that any organization respond to a potential RFP. Please include the following information in the Notice of Intent email:
- Contact name
- Phone #
- E-mail address
- Mailing address
- Note: Provide additional contact persons as needed
Questions or inquiries about the model or response process should be submitted in WORD format (via email). No inquiries will be accepted after February 26, 2016, 11:59 PM (EST). Send all inquiries to email@example.com. E-mail submissions must be clearly labeled in the subject line with “RFI Inquiry – <organization name>.”
G-Administrative Guidance for Respondents
The schedule for the RFI is anticipated to be as follows. Please note that early responses are appreciated.
RFI Release February 17, 2016
Deadline for RFI inquiries/questions February 26, 2016, 11:59 PM
Answers to inquiries posted March 4, 2016
RFI Submission Deadline March 11, 2016, 5:00 PM ET
Review of RFI responses Through April 11, 2016
This schedule is subject to change based on the number of RFI responses received and the information contained in the responses.