To succeed in today’s increasingly complex, technical world, students must be able to analyze and synthesize information from multiple sources, develop a point of view, and effectively communicate their ideas.

New Meridian’s summative English Language Arts/Literacy (ELA/L) assessments focus on critical reading and writing skills by having students read and analyze authentic texts and multimedia (both fiction and nonfiction), research and synthesize information from multiple sources, and formulate their ideas through writing.

Measuring a range of reading and writing skills critical to success

The ELA/L assessments focus a student’s ability to analyze grade-appropriate texts and write clearly, effectively, and persuasively to communicate ideas. The assessments ask students to read and analyze passages from real, authentic texts (both fiction and nonfiction) and multimedia, then draw upon what they learn from these sources to convey their knowledge in writing. By asking students to engage in a variety of literary analysis, research simulation, and narrative writing tasks, New Meridian’s ELA/L assessments measure a range of reading and writing skills that are critical to success in college and in the workplace.

Referred by industry experts

New Meridian assessments and assessment questions are viewed by many experts in the field as well-designed, high-quality assessments. They have been described as next-generation tests that use innovative approaches and question types to measure states’ current content standards. The ELA/L assessments provide comprehensive coverage of key reading and writing skills, and studies of the reliability and validity of the assessments have been positive. The psychometric procedures used to produce scores are technically sound and the tests provide comparable data across districts and schools.

Based on an Evidence-Centered
Design Approach

New Meridian’s assessment development process is grounded in the principles of evidence-centered design (ECD; Mislevy, Almond & Lukas, 2003). ECD is a deliberate and systematic approach to assessment development which helps to establish the validity of the assessments, increase the comparability of year-to-year results, and increase efficiencies in test development, delivery, and reporting. 

When following an ECD approach to assessment development, the first step in designing the assessment is to develop claims that are derived from the standards being assessed. These claims are the inferences that a state would like to make about their students. The second step is to define the evidence needed to support the established claims. The evidence is described in the form of evidence statements that are derived from the standards being assessed and directly aligned to a claim. The third step is to create task models aligned to the evidence statements that are in support of the claims that guide production of the tasks that are designed to elicit the evidence from students. The figure below shows the major steps in New Meridian’s approach to assessment design and development. 

Evidence Centered Design Approach

The assessment development process is fully compliant with The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (AERA, APA & NCME, 2014) and the Council of Chief State School Officers’ (CCSSO) Criteria for Procuring and Evaluating High-Quality Assessments (2020). Each passage and assessment question undergoes rigorous content, bias, sensitivity, and accessibility reviews, followed by large-scale field testing and data review by New Meridian staff and state educator committees prior to operational use.

ELA/L Content Areas

The reading and writing knowledge and skills that can be measured with New Meridian’s assessments are aligned with many states’ academic standards, so most states will be able to select and use New Meridian’s existing test forms or individual tasks (passages and questions) for their end-of-year summative assessments. However, in addition to the content areas described below, New Meridian can custom develop assessment questions to address other aspects of reading and writing curricula, as well as tasks and test forms suited for interim assessments. 

Across Grades 311, the New Meridian ELA/L assessments are designed to measure four key skills that are essential to achieving college- and career-readiness. These broad skills encompass a variety of reading and writing content standards and cover the majority of states’ curricula for ELA/L.

Reading complex texts.

Students read and comprehend a range of complex, grade-level texts, including both literary and informational texts from the domains of English language arts, science, history/social studies, technical subjects, and the arts. When reading, students use content to determine the meaning of words and phrases. They engage in close, analytic reading and compare and synthesize ideas across texts.

Writing effectively when using and/or analyzing sources.

Students use the interrelated literacy activities of reading, gathering evidence about what is read, and analyzing and presenting that evidence in writing.

Conducting and reporting on research.

Students gather resources, evaluate their relevance, and report on information and ideas they have investigated (i.e., conducting research to answer questions or to solve problems).

Language use for reading, writing, and speaking.

Students demonstrate a strong command of grammar and spoken and written academic English.

Cognitive Complexity

As each New Meridian question is developed and reviewed, its cognitive complexity, or the demand it makes on students’ thinking, is evaluated. New Meridian’s ELA/L questions are classified by three levels of cognitive complexity—Low, Medium, and High. These are based on the complexity of its associated text and the processing complexity, including the amount of text a student must process to respond correctly, the linguistic demands and reading load, and the response mode. 

These classifications provide a systematic, replicable method of determining the cognitive complexity of each assessment question, supporting measurement precision across the achievement scale.

ELA/L Assessment Task Models and Question Types

New Meridian’s ELA/L assessments consist of a variety of performance-based tasks (texts and collections of questions) designed to enable students to demonstrate evidence of their mastery of the grade-level standards in a myriad of ways. The performance-based tasks typically consist of two passages and a set of questions that require students to analyze complex texts, synthesize ideas, and write to demonstrate their understanding.

To guide the development of the tasks, New Meridian uses task models that have a particular focus and elicit targeted evidence aligned to the reading and writing evidence statements—Literary Analysis Tasks, Research Simulation Tasks, and Narrative Writing Tasks. The tasks include a mix of three question types—evidence-based selected response, technology-enhanced constructed response, and prose constructed-response.

Accessibility and Accommodations Features

New Meridian’s assessments are designed to be accessible and equitable for all students, including students with disabilities, English Learners, and English Learners with disabilities. Following the principles of universal design, accessibility is considered through all stages of the test development process, from initial item development through test administration. The assessments are equipped with a wide range of accessibility features that are available to all students (e.g., magnification, answer elimination, highlighter tool) and optional features that may be provided to any students (e.g., color contrast, text-to-speech). The assessments also include a range of accommodations for both students with disabilities (e.g., Braille, large print, calculation device) and English Learners (e.g., written directions in a variety of languages, word-to-word dictionary, human reader).

New Meridian ELA/L Assessment Quality

Over the past five years, multiple independent reviews evaluated the state summative assessment options available for Grades 3–8 and high school. Several studies show that the New Meridian ELA/L assessments (referred to as PARCC in these studies) are high-quality, comparable to NAEP, accessible, predictive of college- and career-readiness, and endorsed by the country’s top educators.

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