Quality, cost remain top concerns when it comes to assessments
Assessments are a hot topic in K-12 education — particularly in states that now require school districts to assess students in all subjects, not just those tested by the state. Where will districts get the new assessment content? Should teachers be involved in developing items and assessments? Can technology help? What about test security?
Performance Matters, a provider of assessment and data management systems for K-12 schools, recently conducted an informal survey to uncover what educators are doing to meet the new requirements and identify where they need help. The Performance Matters survey revealed that the vast majority of respondents — 79 percent — plan to develop assessment content internally for courses that aren’t assessed by the state. In contrast, only 30 percent plan to license or purchase the content from third party providers.
With these new assessments also come new concerns. Respondents’ top concerns are the quality of the assessments (65 percent), the cost to purchase assessment content (38 percent), lack of teacher involvement in the creation of assessments (37 percent), and a lack of technology to support online assessments (35 percent).
While two-thirds of respondents believe collaboration is important in creating assessment items and building assessments, they face an array of challenges. Among the biggest obstacles are:
• Inconsistent approaches to item development from class to class or school to school (50 percent),
• A lack of technology tools to facilitate the development and sharing of assessment content (41 percent),
• Test security issues (33 percent),
• Paper-based processes to create and administer assessments (30 percent),
• Separate or incompatible systems for local assessment creation and data management (28 percent),
• An inability to track item development and review processes (26 percent), and
• Limited collaboration within or among schools in the district (26 percent).
In addition, while 51 percent of respondents would like their teachers to be more involved in the development of assessments, only 28 percent can currently collaborate anywhere, anytime to build assessments.
“These findings spotlight critical concerns about assessments in districts across the country,” said Woody Dillaha, CEO and co-founder of Performance Matters. “A major challenge is that school districts are now responsible for assessing courses that aren’t assessed by the state, but they can’t afford to buy all the assessment content they need. They want to develop high-quality assessments internally and they want their teachers involved. They know technology is the answer but they don’t currently have the tools they need for collaboration. That’s why we developed Unify. Unify gets teachers engaged, makes it economically sustainable to develop high-quality items and assessments, and provides the technology to support it.”
Unify is a social platform that allows teachers to easily develop, administer and share assessment content in any course. This next-generation assessment platform connects the talents of educators, so they can pool their resources and work as a team to create and share high-quality assessment content in a secure online environment.
“Unify makes an impossible task possible by giving educators the ability to ‘crowdsource’ assessment creation, within a district or across multiple districts or states,” said Dillaha. “As a result, it dramatically reduces the rising costs associated with new demands to assess all content areas, it helps educators play a more active role in the assessment process, and it provides the data they need to make decisions that improve student learning.”