I am thrilled to introduce the inaugural edition of New Meridian’s monthly newsletter, The Prime. We’ve designed this publication to be a platform for exploring how states, districts and educators are using high quality assessments and data-informed instruction to improve student outcomes.

We chose this name because, just as the Prime Meridian itself is broadly accepted as a reliable and valid reference point for navigation, high-quality assessments enable students, families, and educators to set a course toward readiness for success in school, career and life.

Two years ago, the PARCC states announced they were embarking on a wholly new approach to assessment design and development: Building on the foundations of their work as a consortium, these states were making a hard pivot toward a bold new vision for flexible collaboration that preserved the benefits of shared content development — industry-leading quality, educator involvement, economies of scale — while allowing them the independence and flexibility they needed to design their own custom state tests.

As a lifelong entrepreneur, I find this new approach compelling: Every year, states spend millions of scarce education dollars developing new custom tests that assess what virtually every state agrees are the same skills needed to be prepared for college or a 21st century career. Our new approach gives states all the benefits of a custom test without the cost and time required for custom content development. States now have the flexibility to design their own test (including adaptive designs) and to work with their own test development and administration vendor while taking advantage of a shared pool of high-quality, secure test content. (They may also choose to license the PARCC test, or versions of it, which has been validated by research and peer review as the highest quality assessment design available on the market.)

This new flexible approach has been born out of years of refinement to the PARCC states’ working together and reflects their emerging understanding of states’ needs for both flexible custom design and efficient economies of scale. No one has done this before, but this approach promises to significantly disrupt the traditional state testing industry: States working together flexibly to develop and share high-quality test content contributed to a secure, central repository, which they can then license flexibly at much lower cost than they could develop individually. New Meridian is proud to support this work and to now make this shared content available to all states and their assessment vendors.

As we work with states that are innovating and developing new approaches to assessment and data-informed instruction, we will share insights from the field, promising practices, and informed commentary here in The Prime. I look forward to your joining us as we chart these new pathways together toward the future.

Thank you.