University receives $45 million grant to improve K-12 education

The National Center on Educational Outcomes will work with 19 states to develop a common assessment for students with severe cognitive disabilities.

Ashley Bray

The University of MinnesotaâÄôs National Center on Educational Outcomes has been awarded $45 million from the United States Department of Education to help students with severe cognitive disabilities.

The NCEO will partner with 19 states, researchers and teachers to develop a common assessment for students with severe cognitive disabilities, said Rachel Quenemoen, a senior research fellow working on the project. 

The project will focus on students in grades k-12 with cognitive disabilities, Michael Moore, with NCEO, said.

Each state already has assessments in place that tell the public and the federal government how well kids are doing in public schools, Quenemoen said. Each one has its own standards.

Before the new system was put in place, states had no way to compare assessment scores with each other, she said. âÄúAll you could do was say, âÄúHow is this state doing compared to itself?âÄù

 Last week, the Uniersity was one of two groups awarded grants to develop assesments for students with cognitive disabilities.

Over four years, researchers at NCEO will work with 19 states to develop a common   assessment to be used in many states, so that officials will be able to measure and compare how well students perform across states.

âÄúWeâÄôll have a common assessment based on common standards across the states and those states will be able to use that in their assessments,âÄù Quenemoen said.

NCEO will also be building in resources to develop curriculum and instructional material to help students perform.

âÄúJust assessing kids without supporting public educators in schools to understand how to teach them better when theyâÄôre not doing so well isnâÄôt particularly productive,âÄù Quenemoen said.

An attractive feature for researchers is that they will be able to work one-on-one with teachers. 

âÄúThis grant is truly a research to practice partnership âĦ and thatâÄôs really an opportunity,âÄù Quenemoen said. âÄúOften university-based researchers donâÄôt have the luxury of really sitting down and thinking together with practitioners âĦ and come up with something that ultimately will improve outcomes for kids.âÄù