MONTEREY, Calif., April 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- CTB/McGraw-Hill, one of the nation's leading educational assessment partners, today announced that it has been selected by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium to develop the first set of test items for the new Common Core Assessments, which states will be able to use to evaluate the progress of elementary, middle and high school students toward meeting the new Common Core State Standards. This marks the largest contract to date that Smarter Balanced has awarded to an assessment partner and represents a leap forward in the development of the next generation of student assessments. Smarter Balanced is one of two state-led consortia funded by the U.S. Department of Education to develop assessment tools to help states gauge student progress toward meeting the new Common Core State Standards. Adopted at the state level beginning in 2010, the Common Core State Standards align K-12 instruction across the country to better prepare students for success in college and their careers. The standards have been adopted by 45 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, with many states working this year on transition strategies to migrate instruction, curriculum and assessment to the new standards. As part of the contract, CTB and its partners will develop nearly 10,000 test items for the Smarter Balanced assessment system, which will be implemented in the 2014-2015 school year. These test items, which will be subject to extensive research under the contract, will include a variety of innovative formats, challenging performance elements and rich technological enhancements. "The Common Core State Standards hold the incredible promise of preparing all of our students for post-secondary success. Innovative assessments that help measure students' progress toward meeting them are critical to fulfilling this promise," said Ellen Haley, president of CTB/McGraw-Hill. "We're extremely excited to be partnering with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium to help develop this next generation of assessments." Smarter Balanced selected CTB for the award in large part due to the company's long track record of success in developing high-quality content as well as its commitment to innovation.