Assessments are critical in a highly effective education system. Assessments make standards concrete by providing students, parents, teachers and school leaders, and the public with a clear sense of the kinds of performances students need to demonstrate to show that they have met the standards. Assessment results also provide important information about the extent to which students and schools are meeting standards and what they need to do to improve.
The assessment landscape is changing rapidly. Two consortia of states—Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC)—are currently developing new assessments to measure student performance against the Common Core State Standards. These assessments are expected to include performance tasks that ask students to apply their knowledge to real problems, perhaps working in teams, and to communicate their understanding. They are expected to be delivered on computers, to make use of the advantages technology provides to measure students’ abilities in ways not possible with paper-and-pencil tests.
The consortia and individual states are also developing additional assessments to supplement end-of-year tests used for accountability purposes. These assessments include formative tools for teachers to guide instructional decisions on an ongoing basis as well as interim assessments to inform students and parents during the course of the year.
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Recognizing that no single test can fulfill all the needs for information by all stakeholders, this report suggests the need for a comprehensive system of assessments that needs to be coherent and cohesive and aligned to standards for college and career readiness.