New Assessment Report Falls Short

Pearson, ETS, and College Board issued Thoughts on an Assessment of Common Core Standards.  No surprises in the summary:

  • *no test can serve all instructional and accountability needs; think about assessment systems
  • *assessments should enable state-to-state comparisons and international benchmarking
  • *the 3-8 systems should support growth models
  • *data collected over the year should be included in summative assessment
  • *tests should be online and should make use of adaptive technology
  • *more than multiple choice and consistent with good instruction

However, if you go back and re-read the iNACOL paper on competency-based learning, the two papers don’t seem to envision the same learning environment.  The first paper is written for the schools we have, not the schools we need; it assumes age cohorts slogging through print on an agrarian calendar.  It retains an end of year focus and does not support competency-based learning—it suggests that “ultimately” there should be support for on-demand assessment.
Here’s why that’s a disaster: assessment is the backbone of the system and as long as state assessment presumes age cohorts and a 180-day year, that’s what we’ll get.
The assessment report described the systems that should have been in place in the last decade, not the next decade.  We need to stop saying “time is variable, learning is constant” and start acting on it.  A student-centered competency-based system changes all of our assumptions about school structure, staffing, scheduling, funding, and—perhaps most of all—assessment.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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