WASHINGTON, D.C. — Michigan has joined a group of 31 states trying to win federal funds to develop a new approach to standardized tests, according to Education Week. This would eventually eliminate the familiar Michigan Educational Assessment Program in favor of evaluating student performance on tasks throughout the school year as well as an end-of-year computerized assessment.

 The group, named the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, is one of two consortia that applied to the U.S. Department of Education this week to win up to $320 million to produce the new assessment system, Education Week reported. A third group applied for a grant specific to high school testing.

The goal is to create a way to test students that is comparable across states, and that matches the new national academic standards that Michigan and other states have adopted, according to the report. Tests must be in place by 2014.

The SMARTER system would assess students each year on two "performance tasks" in English and math, completed at the computer and going beyond the simple ability to recall material, Education Week reported. The end-of-year test would be "computer adaptive," meaning students would work at progressively harder problems until reaching the limit of their ability. The system also would provide interim assessments that teachers could use to gauge student progress at any given time.

Unlike most current test programs, the SMARTER plan calls for teachers to score the performance tasks, supplemented by computer-scoring software, according to Education Week.

Education Week, "Three Groups Apply for Race to the Top Test Grants," June 23, 2010 (Subscription required)

Michigan Education Report, "Michigan Adopts National Standards," June 22, 2010