Arthur VanderVeen, Ph.D., is Chief Executive Officer at New Meridian, responsible for innovation, strategy, and customer engagement at the company he founded in 2016.
Over 25 years in education, Arthur has taught as a college instructor, started a company that helped pioneer online learning, served as a school district administrator, and an executive at large assessment companies. Yet he is the first to say it was not a straight path.
With a B.A. in English from Colorado College, Arthur proceeded to earn a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, focusing on theology and educational psychology. He spent time both as an assistant pastor and a prison chaplain.
“I felt it was a way to help people and to think about the big questions in our lives,” he said. The role ultimately led him to continue his studies and to focus on education as a career. As he put it, “I was drawn to teaching for the same reasons—to help people ask big questions and think critically about the world and their place in it.”
In the early 1990s, while earning a doctoral degree in English at the University of Texas at Austin, Arthur worked in a computer writing and research lab, one of the first blended learning environments that introduced technology to the classroom. Later, he and a group of colleagues received a grant and started a company that developed digital curricula and professional development resources to help teachers harness technology.
“That ignited my new passion,” he said. “I got the bug for running a company.”
Arthur would spend the next 15 years in executive roles, starting with the College Board, where he was introduced to the world of assessment. As Executive Director, he led a three-year initiative to develop the College Board Standards for College Success in Mathematics and English Language Arts, a foundational source document for the Common Core State Standards.
At the New York City Department of Education, he first served as Executive Director for Assessment, where he oversaw summative and formative assessment programs. He managed an annual budget of $65 million in a program that designed and administered more than 5 million assessments each year.
Arthur later served as Chief of Innovation, where he launched and led the NYC Innovation Zone (iZone), helping 180 schools, 600 teachers, and 40,000 students adopt formative assessment and adaptive digital solutions to personalize instruction.
As Vice President for Business Strategy and Development at Compass Learning, Arthur led the company’s strategy to partner with assessment providers and deliver personalized digital learning. When he left, 40 percent of company bookings were associated with partnership sales.
It was Arthur’s belief that high-quality assessment is essential to learning that brought New Meridian into the world. When he worked in New York, the state helped found the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, more commonly known as PARCC. The test developed by the consortium was designed to assess deeper learning, requiring students to reason from evidence, solve problems, and communicate effectively.
“That was the very best large-scale assessment available,” Arthur said. When the partnership began to dissolve, he did not want to see the work go to waste. “It was about the test,” he said. “It was disheartening to see this high-quality assessment not being used. I saw it as an opportunity.”
New Meridian was born and selected by the states to help them transition to a more flexible partnership, made possible by sharing their large bank of high-quality test questions with other states.
“This content was created by states, for states,” Arthur said. “Our goal is to make it widely available to every state so that schools can better measure the critical thinking and communication skills that matter for students’ future success.”