The cancellation of summative assessments in the spring of 2020, coupled with the variability of the spring 2021 testing season, has significantly impacted the K–12 assessment landscape.
Though students continue to feel pressure around high-stakes tests, their perceived value has decreased dramatically, according to a recent study that surveyed K-12 educators and parents in the United States. In terms of measuring student success, respondents perceive standardized test scores as the least important among 14 factors, at only 29 percent.
When it comes to formative assessment or assessment for learning, however, things look different. To check students’ understanding, 76 percent of educators delivered formative assessments during remote learning. Though formative assessments have proven instrumental in addressing learning gaps related to school closures, the need for accountability testing has not gone away.
At its core, accountability testing exists to ensure every student receives a high-quality education. However, its standardized approach has made it difficult for teachers to quickly address learning needs and adjust instruction to improve student outcomes. As schools and districts prepare for the future of assessment, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.
Assessments should be part of the learning process
For years, summative assessments have been disruptive to the learning process. Students, teachers, and administrators alike feel the pressure to prepare students to perform in a high-stakes assessment environment. End-of-year assessments place a heavy burden on teachers to prepare students for the length and duration of these assessments, which can take away from the work they are doing every day to gauge standards mastery and personalize learning.