The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) emphasizes the need for a balanced assessment system (BAS). While there’s a lot of uncertainty about the fate of ESSA, many of us in the K–12 world understand the inherent rightness of a BAS and will persist in seeking that kind of comprehensive assessment plan. It’s the bright, elusive butterfly of assessment—we all want it, and we’re all working hard to pin it down. We’ve established our vision of a BAS, and it’s based on having a clear understanding of the goals and uses of various assessment types.
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.
Supporting the Students of Massachusetts
Stating the obvious, K–12 educational assessment is a complicated business. It’s not just because education standards and federal assessment requirements change. Throw in politics, state legislation, and the extremely public debates about testing, and it’s remarkable that progress is made at all.
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.
If you work in assessment, you know that the answer to this question is far from simple. Early this month our director of Psychometrics, Dr. Jennifer Dunn, gave a talk at TEDxPiscataquaRiver in Portsmouth, NH. Titled “Using Data to Motivate Change,” Dr. Dunn described her own introduction to psychometrics, and how the challenge of measuring the intangible—what a person knows—captured her interest. Here are some of the main points of her talk.