“I promise to replace our current accountability assessment with a single, summative, formative, adaptive, diagnostic general achievement test that measures growth and yields immediate results that teachers can use right away to modify their instruction.”
Over a period of four decades, the stakes associated with state assessment results have increased dramatically. At the same time, as a related phenomenon, expectations of state programs have also increased significantly…to the point that they cannot be met. Nor should they be.
End-of-year summative tests sparsely covering a year’s worth of instructional content are not designed to diagnose individual student learning gaps or to be of immediate use to teachers to inform real-time or almost real-time instructional decisions. Efforts to make them serve such purposes have led to a focus on lower level cognitive skills at the expense of deeper learning, misuse of test results, and even poor instructional practices. Instead, these state tests should be used for instructional program evaluation leading to well-conceived programmatic adjustments and ultimately to improved learning experiences of students.
This is not to say there can’t be an innovative, classroom-based, curriculum-embedded component to accountability assessment systems, but end-of-year summative measures definitely have an important role to play. For more information on how we allowed state testing to go astray, see “Expectations of State Assessments: More Information from Shorter Tests.”
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