With post-pandemic learning loss still a concern, educators are focusing on effectively balancing K-12 assessment with instruction.

What’s the state of K-12 assessment?

With post-pandemic learning loss still a concern, educators are focusing on effectively balancing K-12 assessment with instruction

Key points:

The majority of educators believe their school or district has an assessment-focused culture, but there are gaps in K-12 assessment literacy and familiarity with state standards, according to the 2023 State of Assessment in K-12 Education report from Instructure and Hanover Research.

With post-pandemic learning loss a continued focus, educators and administrators are relying on both formative and summative K-12 assessment data to direct classroom instruction. However, they are concerned about K-12 assessment literacy; the value placed on assessments; quality and reliability; identifying the right technology to deliver data; and effectively balancing assessment with instruction.

While 81 percent of educators believe they have an assessment-focused culture, there are discrepancies in assessment literacy, a lack of comfort with state standards, and the burdensome nature of the current assessment model. Only 62 percent of educators feel proficient in assessment literacy and 51 percent have concerns over the negative impact of assessments on instructional time. This emphasizes the need for relevant professional development opportunities, the use of embedded (or in-course) assessments, and systemic improvements that create an impactful and supportive assessment environment for both educators and students.

The findings suggest five common trends and best practices to drive more balanced assessment in K-12 schools:

1. Assessment literacy needs to be prioritized. There is a need to invest in professional development for teachers to build confidence in assessment design and practice, as well as how to effectively use the data to drive learning.

  • Four out of five educators perceive their district or school culture to be “assessment-focused,” yet only three out of five consider themselves “assessment literate.”
  • With less than two-thirds of educators (64 percent) feeling comfortable with their current state standards, further efforts are needed to promote standards-aligned assessment.

2. Both administrators and teachers value assessment – for different reasons. The survey uncovered diverging perspectives between administrators and teachers regarding the value of assessment.

  • 62 percent of teachers expressed concerns over the negative impact of current assessment models on instructional time.
  • The impact of interim and summative assessments differs between teachers and administrators. Administrators are 17 percent more likely to view interim assessments as an opportunity to measure student growth than teachers.

3. Quality and reliability (still) matter most. Assessment remains top-of-mind for educators. Almost twice as many educators are evaluating their assessments annually compared to one year ago. As schools continue to evaluate assessments and consider changing models in upcoming years, three characteristics are valued above all: reliability (91 percent), validity (90 percent), and quality (91 percent).

  • Of the 70 percent of educators evaluating their assessments at least once yearly, half implement new assessments annually. This number is significantly higher than 38 percent in 2021.
  • 87 percent of educators agree that aligning assessments with state standards and accurately representing the district’s scope and sequence is crucial.

4. The right technology embeds the right assessment data at the right time. Choosing the right educational tools is crucial for schools, especially given the abundance of options and approaching funding deadlines.

  • Top data priorities include the ability to track student mastery of learning standards (46 percent), align content to standards (46 percent) and efficient, real-time data delivery (42 percent).
  • Many educators report they are more likely to embrace technology that provides valuable data (51 percent), is promoted by school leaders (47 percent) and saves them time (47 percent).

5. Educators continue to balance the assessment approach. As the post-pandemic new normal sets in, educators’ confidence in summative assessment appears to be returning.

  • More than two-thirds of educators reported positive perceptions of summative assessments, compared to just over half of educators in 2021.
  • Educators cite that summative assessments help them to see trends over time (76 percent), provide valuable data that influence classroom instruction (73 percent) and encourage them to grow as teachers (70 percent).

“Based on the findings, educators need efficient and effective tools to create and deliver assessments that measure student growth beyond achievement,” said Karl Rectanus, SVP of K-12 Strategy at Instructure. “The report shows the need for learning platforms that can seamlessly and safely integrate assessment into content to optimize effective teaching and learning.”

Partnering with Hanover Research, Instructure launched the study designed to understand how 1,000 K-12 teachers and administrators across the United States feel about assessment today, how they use assessments and outcomes data in practice, and their opinion of the future of K-12 assessment.

This press release originally appeared online.

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