The pandemic reignited the debate over shifting away from high-stakes testing to a more balanced assessment approach that’s part of the regular instructional cycle. Many parents and education leaders alike hoped this would be the catalyst for ending high-stakes testing entirely, or at least shift the focus toward assessments that drive better supports for students. And while some progress has been made, new research suggests we’re at a pivotal moment for changing K-12 assessment.
In the spring of 2020, school closures forced the cancellation of state summative assessments in all 50 states for the first time since the No Child Left Behind era began in 2002. States did without the data used for high-stakes decisions such as A-F grading of individual schools, and educators were left to look to other methods to evaluate learning.
Since then, there have been nearly unanimous calls to create assessments that provide teachers with real-time information to help guide and direct student learning. Now in the third year impacted by the pandemic as the effects of COVID-19 continue, measuring and addressing student learning is even more critical amidst the frequent disruptions. Nonetheless, schools around the country are once again preparing to head into another round of spring standardized testing.
Why can’t we break free of high-stakes testing?
According to recent research, 81 percent of educators remain concerned that summative assessments are making students anxious, and teachers and administrators want to move to a more balanced assessment approach.
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