Over the last decade, expectations of statewide tests have gotten a little out of hand. As Measured Progress founder Stuart Kahl facetiously puts it, politicians and policy makers want nothing less than “a single, summative, formative, adaptive, diagnostic, general achievement test that measures growth and yields immediate results that teachers can use right away to modify their instruction.” A single assessment of this kind surely doesn’t exist, but Dr. Kahl explores ways to approach that ambitious goal in a recent white paper, “How can state assessments better test deeper learning? Three models that can work.” Given states’ ongoing work to meet ESSA requirements and introduce innovation in their assessment systems, it’s a good time to consider new approaches. Read on for a few highlights from the paper.
Delivering high-quality assessments that provide evidence of student understanding can be a challenge, especially when time and resources are stretched thin. Accurate and relevant assessments that help inform future instruction require a rigorous development process with several levels of review, but often district staff members simply don’t have that time and expertise. So, can you ensure quality assessments—even if they’re created quickly, with limited resources?
School districts adopt a range of assessments in their balanced assessment systems. Some assessments are meant specifically to support learning—to identify students’ strengths and weaknesses, help teachers plan instruction, and evaluate the effectiveness of curricula. Others are meant to predict future performance or accomplish other goals. To help educators and professionals get on common ground with terminology, we’ve explored the definitions and purpose of interim and benchmark assessments. Now we offer a new video to add to our collective understanding of these district-level assessments.
The past year saw LOTS of discussion about different types of assessment and their most suitable uses. In fact, we’ve heard from many districts that recent conversations have led to frank evaluations of what assessments they need, and in some cases, what assessments they no longer need.
From classroom teachers to state policy makers, many educators are focused on creating and implementing meaningful assessments. Teachers and district leaders need items that support solid formative assessment practices. They want to use the evidence gathered from these items to inform decisions about instructional strategies, student groupings, and learning targets for individual students and groups. State policy makers and psychometricians focus more on long-range plans such as those to meet ESSA requirements. Suffice it to say, assessment is on educators’ minds.
We recently posted a piece on our Opinions page that outlines the current expectations of statewide tests, and presents a solution that includes teacher-administered measures without adding additional testing time or burden on teachers. We provide a brief summary below. Read the full article.
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.
“Why do assessment?” That’s the question we ask ourselves regularly, on behalf of our customers and clients. It helps us stay true to our mission—to improve teaching and learning—and to make sure we’re delivering valuable solutions to the students, teachers, and administrators who assess students every day.