The harsh reality is that behind the school choice movement is some people’s belief that public schools just aren’t doing a good job of educating children. This belief is bolstered by U.S. students’ disappointing performance on international tests and data showing that an increasing number of entering college freshmen need remedial course work. Despite alternative explanations of this evidence, the negative views of our public schools feed a more general movement toward privatization by the powers that be.
With the search for innovative assessment systems, states and districts are deeply engaged in finding new options. One thing we hear from state and local assessment staff is that time is already short. How can we devote time to thinking strategically and creatively, much less to try things out in schools?
How can we find time to collaborate and learn from each other?
We all want to implement constructive, innovative approaches to education and assessment, but that’s easier said than done. One thing we hear from state and local assessment staff is that educators’ time is already short, making it daunting to create and evaluate new possibilities, much less to try new things in schools.
How do you find time to improve education and assessment?
The innovation in assessment encouraged by the ESSA passed in late 2015 sounds great, but we hear from educators that time is short at every level—from state personnel who are responsible for accountability assessments to local administrators and teachers who are responsible for most of the testing students experience. “How can we find time to create and evaluate new possibilities,” they ask, “much less devote time to trying new things in our schools?”
Innovation in education and assessment sounds good . . . but there’s never enough time.
The ESSA expanded the possibilities for assessment, and invited stakeholders to begin to create innovative assessments. However, a question we hear from state and local educators is: How can we find time to create and evaluate new possibilities, much less devote time to trying out new things in schools?
10 sources of concern about time . . . and recommendations to address them
There’s a lot of discussion about innovative assessment practices today, for a variety of reasons, including the flexibility offered by the Every Student Succeeds Act and general dissatisfaction with traditional tests that focus on lower level cognitive skills. States and districts are deeply engaged in finding new assessment options, with growing interest in using performance assessment to gauge students’ higher order thinking skills and create engaging assessment activities with high instructional value.
The past 15 years have seen a lot of changes in statewide accountability testing. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) increased federal control over state assessment programs and increased stakes associated with test results. The Obama administration’s Race to the Top program further raised the stakes by incentivizing the adoption of common college-readiness standards and assessments and the significant weighing of student test results in teacher evaluations.
The 1061 pages of the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) address a wide range of topics that educators and policy makers need to understand. In many ways, the law appears much the same as the previous ESEA reauthorization, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The requirements for common, challenging academic standards and for common assessments in certain grades and subjects remain the same. So do the requirements for standards and assessments for students with disabilities and English language learners. Within those pages, though, are noteworthy changes in the law relating to statewide accountability assessment.