Parents, educators want more from assessment

“Parents, teachers and district administrators want a 360-degree perspective on individual student learning in every academic subject and on the tangible and intangible skills that signal college and career readiness,” noted NWEA President and CEO Matt Chapman in the report’s introduction. “They want an in-depth portrait of each child’s progress over time and a reflection of each child’s exploration, discovery, and confidence as a learner.”

And hopes for such a diverse education mean that giving just one standard assessment will not be capable of providing such in-depth progress information.

“For every child, we need multiple measures of performance,” he added.

New assessments for new standards

The National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers devised the Common Core State Standards, which aim to provide rigorous English/language arts and mathematics standards. Two state-led consortia are developing assessments targeted to the Common Core.

As the Common Core State Standards gain momentum, teachers and district administrators differ in their opinions about whether new school assessments aligned to the common standards will be effective.

Sixty-two percent of district administrators said the Common Core assessments will be “extremely” or “very” useful to their work, while just 33 percent of teachers reported feeling the same way. Twenty-one percent of teachers said the assessments will be “not very” or “not at all” useful.

“District administrators likely have more information about the Common Core than teachers do at this point—and teachers may be projecting their generally limited enthusiasm for summative assessments to the Common Core,” according to the report. “Still, this suggests that teacher disinterest could be an impediment to implementing the Common Core standards and assessments as preparation for college and careers.”

Most teachers surveyed said individual student performance and personalized learning are among their top priorities.

At least 60 percent of teachers cite the following student-centered aspects of teaching and learning as among the most important to them: monitoring individual student performance, monitoring growth in learning over time, providing extra support in classrooms, personalizing education for each student, identifying students’ strengths and weaknesses, and collaborating with colleagues on instructional needs.

Interestingly, district administrators were more than two times as likely as teachers to say that monitoring teacher effectiveness is important. Seventy-two percent of district administrators said that monitoring teacher effectiveness is important, compared to 29 percent. But 88 percent of parents responded that measuring high-quality teaching is “extremely” or “very” important.

Technology’s role

When it comes to survey results around technology and game-based assessment, Grunwald said two findings in particular stand out.

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