You’ve told us that district leaders are struggling to reduce the time they spend on testing. Your assessment calendars are full, and you’re under pressure to carve out more time for student instruction. We understand that reality, and we can help.
Ah, the elusive balanced assessment system. As educators and administrators, we all talk about it, we all want it, and yet—what does it look like? As you can imagine, here at Measured Progress we’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what makes a “good” assessment system, and what the future may look like.
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?
Media reports are full of stories that the new administration intends to “repeal the Common Core,” expand vouchers and charter schools, and slash education funding. Talk about disruption. What does all that mean for large-scale accountability testing? In my view, not very much.
We’re celebrating the launch of eMPower Assessments™, a new college and career readiness assessment solution for grades 3–8 that debuts today, nationwide. It’s the district interim and formative classroom components that complement the statewide summative solution already available and in use. We’re excited to offer this solution for many reasons, but most importantly because it ties so closely to our mission to improve student learning.
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.
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.
Recently Parcc, Inc. reported student performance differences on the Spring 2015 PARCC® assessments based on the mode of testing: online or paper. Benjamin Herold summarized the findings in two recent Education Week articles. He reported that the pattern of lower student performance for those taking the computer-based tests was most pronounced in English Language Arts and middle- and high-school mathematics (Herold, 2016a). Parcc, Inc. has not yet released research evidence or announced a plan to conduct research that may explain the mode differences. Herold reported that Parcc, Inc. is asking participating states to examine the differences and draw conclusions appropriate for their context.