The Vision: Multiple Assessments
MISSION: School Transformation is inspired and guided by the visioning document Creating a New Vision for Texas Public Education, produced by the Public Education Visioning Institute.
Article III: Assessments for Learning
Appropriate and varied types of assessments are essential for informing students about their level of success in ways that affirm and stimulate their efforts and for informing their teachers so that more customized learning experiences may be provided in a timely way. Well-conceived and well-designed assessments should also be used to reveal to parents, the school, the district, and society at large the extent to which the desired learning is occurring and what schools are doing to continuously improve.
- Assessments must be framed in a system development approach to meet the information needs of all users of assessment results. The system must be balanced and reflect at least three basic levels of assessment: the classroom level, with particular attention to the impact of the assessment on the learner; the program level, which allows evaluation of program effectiveness; and the institutional level, which appropriately informs policymakers.
- Assessments used by teachers are the most critical for improving instruction and student learning, and to be effective must reflect certain characteristics, be interpreted properly in context, and reported clearly. Conducting good assessments is a part of the art and science of good teaching that results from teacher experiences and formal teacher professional development opportunities.
- Assessment should be used primarily for obtaining student feedback and informing the student and the teacher about the level of student conceptual understanding or skill development so that the teacher has accurate information to consider for designing additional or different learning experiences.
- Assessment should be continuous and comprehensive using multiple tools, rubrics, and processes, and incorporate teacher judgments about student work and performance as well as the judgment of others, when needed.
- Assessment should not be limited to nor even rely substantially on standardized tests that are primarily multiple-choice paper/pencil or on similar online instruments that can be machine-scored.
- Standardized tests should be used primarily to identify hard-to-learn/difficult-to-teach concepts to differentiate learning experiences and focus attention on the more systemic curricular issues involving student performance. Assessments that rely exclusively on quantifiable information remove from the teacher and school informed judgment prerogatives that are necessary to be timely and productive and deny the human aspect of the daily interactions teachers have with students and each other.
- Assessment should reflect and encourage virtual learning and incorporate ways of recognizing its value and counting it as credit in meeting graduation requirements.
- Reports about student performances, generated as a result of assessment, should inform students, parents, the school, and the greater community about how well students are doing.
- Sampling techniques involving all student groups should be employed periodically to evaluate programs and overall student progress. On occasion, community members or other teachers who have particular expertise may observe student performances and participate in protocols gauging the quality of student work products or examinations.
- The voice of students should be respected, and their feedback should be solicited regarding their learning and their response to the tasks they are assigned.
- The voice of teachers should be respected, particularly what they have to say about student performance, curriculum development, and program evaluations.
- The voice of parents should be respected, and they should be involved in feedback processes regarding the response of their children to tasks assigned as well as parental desire to do work at home that extends the learning.
- Assessments for learning, when they are varied and comprehensive, can also furnish important information in context as one factor among many in personnel appraisal systems, in ascertaining the performance levels of campuses and departments, and in measuring the impact of accountability systems on inspiring continuous improvement.
Consortium Makes Recommendations on Assessment and Accountability
On February 23, 2016, representatives of the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium provided the Texas Commission on Next-Generation Assessments and Accountability, created in 2015 by HB 2804 to “develop and make recommendations for new systems of student assessment and public school accountability,” with recommendations for changes to the state’s assessment and accountability systems.
HB 2804 requires that the Commission consider the Consortium’s recommendations when it prepares its report to the Legislature by September 1, 2016.
Federal Testing Action Plan
The Testing Action Plan released by the U.S. Department of Education in October 2015 says that an assessment should be “just one of multiple measures” of evaluating student performance. See the Fact Sheet on the Testing Action Plan, which includes principles for fewer and smarter assessments suggested by the USDE.Also read about the regulations proposed in July 2016 by the USDE that would implement provisions of Title I of ESSA to ensure states administer high-quality assessments that are worth taking and provide meaningful data about student success and equity, while also encouraging states and districts to continue to push the field of assessment forward through innovation.