In normal times, a discussion about the future of assessment might look five years ahead to talk about the prospects of more authentic computer-aided assessments or potential developments in continuous assessment. However, in 2020, we have more immediate needs right in front us, and the assessment tools we may have had for years will be even more relevant.

We will start this next year with many questions. How will the lack of summative assessments from this past spring impact the coming school year? How quickly can teachers determine what students may have missed in the chaotic close of the 2019–2020 school year? How can teachers parse the interim and formative assessment data of incoming students and focus on the areas that will provide the greatest return?

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The answers to these questions will vary from school to school, but we can be certain that, across the board, assessment is going to be critical to getting students back on track in the aftermath of school closures.

What’s different this fall?

The majority of schools closed in the spring before they had a chance to perform their standard end-of-year summative assessments. That’s one source of data that teachers are not going to have as they begin planning for the new academic year.

About the Author:

Dr. Katie McClarty (@KatieMcClarty) is the vice president of research and design at Renaissance. With a PhD in social and personality psychology, Dr. McClarty previously held roles as the chief assessment officer at Questar Assessment and director of the Center for College & Career Success in Pearson’s Research & Innovation Network. She can be reached at

Dr. Gene Kerns (@GeneKerns) is the chief academic officer at Renaissance. He is a third-generation educator and has served as a public-school teacher, adjunct faculty member, professional development trainer, district supervisor of academic services, and academic advisor at one of the nation’s top edtech companies. He has trained and consulted internationally and is the co-author of three books. He can be reached at