We are national leaders in educational standards & assessment

WestEd and CRESST, two national leaders in the standards and assessment field, continue their collaboration in providing high-quality services as the Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation (CSAI).

CSAI provides state education agencies (SEAs) and Regional Comprehensive Centers (RCCs) with research support, technical assistance, tools, and other resources to help inform decisions about standards, assessment, and accountability. CSAI is committed to:

Improving state policies, practices, and supports to districts for the implementation of rigorous college and career readiness standards and assessments.
Increasing the capacity of the RCCs to meet the technical assistance and implementation needs of states around standards, assessment, and accountability.
Capitalizing on available technology and media to promote engagement, effectiveness, and efficiency in the application of research and resources to expand the reach of CSAI.
Continuously improving the operational efficiency and effectiveness of CSAI to support the long-term sustainability of educational reform efforts across states and districts.

A Central Hub for Information about Standards Implementation

A core feature of CSAI’s research activities is our continual monitoring of states’ policies and activities to support the implementation of their college and career readiness standards and assessments. We leverage the resources available from a range of federal networks, including the Regional Educational Laboratories, Equity Assistance Centers, and our partner comprehensive centers, to provide the most up-to-date information about states’ standards, assessment, and accountability systems.  

For detailed information about CSAI's work and services, please see the Who We Are and What We Do resource.

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Theory of Action

The nation faces an unprecedented education challenge as nearly all of our states work to implement new and rigorous college and career readiness standards and the innovative assessments designed to measure student learning against these standards. The Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation (CSAI) is a federally funded national center charged with focusing research- and evidence-based technical assistance to increase states’ capacity to support their districts and schools in this implementation effort.

CSAI’s theory of action begins with the new college and career readiness standards that provide the framework for classroom instruction and student learning. Research and best practice have shown us that the degree to which there is coherence and alignment among the standards, curricular materials, and instructional strategies used is directly correlated to opportunities for student learning.

The standards also provide the foundation for developing meaningful and effective assessment. The alignment between the standards and assessments is key in determining to whom the assessments are administered and how the data are used. Issues of technical adequacy, including validity (content, construct, predictive, consequential), reliability (measurement precision, stability/consistency, scoring), and fairness (with implications for diverse student populations), are critical to consider in developing, identifying, or evaluating diagnostic, interim, benchmark, and summative assessments. This is especially true as student achievement data is increasingly used as a metric for accountability at the teacher, school, and district levels.

As seen in our theory of action model, there is not only alignment among curriculum and instruction and assessment, but also a continuous feedback loop among the three, as each informs the others to provide a valid and accurate measure of student learning.

Although CSAI does not work directly in classrooms, we apply this model through the lens of supporting the needs of our diverse learning population at the center of our work. This is reflected in the research, technical assistance, and support that is needed at the classroom, school, district, and state levels of decision-making. Our aim is to focus on building capacity, at all levels, in the development of balanced, coherent, and efficient systems of teaching and learning.

Comprehensive Centers Program

The federal Comprehensive Centers Program is funded by the Office of School Support and Rural Programs (SSRP) through the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) in the U.S. Department of Education. This program awards discretionary grants that support 22 comprehensive centers to help increase state capacity to assist districts and schools in meeting student achievement goals.

There are seven content centers that provide research-based technical assistance and support for 15 Regional Comprehensive Centers (RCCs) and the states they serve, around the following areas: Building State Capacity and Productivity, College and Career Readiness and Success, Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes, Great Teachers and Leaders, Innovations in Learning, School Turnaround, and Standards and Assessment Implementation.

The 15 RCCs provide frontline assistance to states to help them implement the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and other federal school improvement programs and to help increase the capacity of states to assist their districts and schools.