Commission Calls for Radically Different Tests
Panel offers a 10-year plan
Emerging technology and research on learning have the potential to dramatically improve assessments, if educators and policymakers take a more balanced approach to using them.Thats the conclusion of two years of analysis by the Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in Education, a panel of top education research and policy experts that was launched in 2011 with initial funding from the Educational Testing Service.In a report that was set for release this week, the commission lays out a 10-year plan for states to develop systems of assessment that go beyond identifying student achievement for accountability purposes and toward improving classroom instruction and giving greater insight into how children learn.Joanne Weiss, the chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan but not part of the commission, said the report “shines a needed spotlight on the future of assessment, pushing us to make the next stages of this vital work coherent, coordinated, and sustainable.””When we get assessment right, it helps families, teachers, schools, and systems tailor learning to students needs and make wise decisions,” Ms. Weiss said in a statement. “Today, we stand on the cusp of the biggest advances in assessment in a generation, with assessments that are more useful and less intrusive, thanks in part to advances in education technology.”At a time when student performance on state tests is used to judge everything from teacher effectiveness to school improvement to a high school seniors right to a diploma, many in the education world have been pushing hard for better assessments.Interest in the so-called “next generation” assessments being developed for the Common Core State Standards is so high that last summer visitors crashed the Internet servers of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, one of the consortia developing the tests, when it posted sample test items.
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