Parents, educators want more from assessment

Results from a recent study results suggest that states and schools could use assessments in better and more helpful ways.

Thanks to the federal No Child Left Behind Act, K-12 educators are spending more time than ever before on testing their students’ skills—but is all this testing doing any good?

The results from a new national survey reveal that both parents and educators would like to see a wider variety of school assessments that go beyond the high-stakes exams now common in schools—and they’d like to see a wider range of skills and subjects tested as well, including so-called 21st century skills such as problem solving and critical thinking.

The results suggest that states and schools could be doing a better job of using assessments as key tools to foster student growth and achievement.…Read More

States given millions for new assessments

Duncan said that assessments are only as good as the standards being tested.
Duncan said assessments are only as good as the standards being tested.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Sept. 2 announced the recipients of millions of dollars in federal grants to provide new state assessment systems to test students’ 21st-century skills. The announcement comes as part of the recent push from the federal Education Department (ED) for higher-performing schools and common standards.

Two large state coalitions won this “Race to the Top” competition to create a series of new national academic tests to replace the current patchwork system: the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) from Washington state and the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) from Florida. (See “States collaborate on new national exams.”)

SBAC, which submitted an application on behalf of a group of 31 states, received $160 million. It will focus on formative assessments and the use of technology for testing to measure student growth over time through computer adaptive testing. It will continue to use one test at the end of the year for accountability purposes but will create a series of interim tests to inform students, parents, and teachers about whether students are on track.…Read More