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Report Shows Need for Better Assessment Literacy

Last week, the Northwest Evaluation Association, in cooperation with Grunwald Associates, released a new report, Make Assessment Matter. The report follows up on a study done by the group 2 years ago of assessment perceptions held by parents, teachers, and district administrators.

In the current landscape where standards, accountability assessments, and use of student value-added measures to evaluate teachers prevail, the researchers expanded survey respondents to include students to better understand their awareness and what value—if any—they perceive in educational testing.

Based on survey data collected from more than 1,000 students in grades 4-12, more than 1,000 PK-12 classroom teachers, and 200 district administrators, the report highlights six key findings:

  1. Students want a voice on assessments and on their education.
  2. There are notable differences in student perceptions of assessments and school.
  3. Students and educators value assessments—when they support learning.
  4. Collaboration empowers educators to interpret and use assessment results.
  5. Major gaps persist in assessment literacy.
  6. Ready or not, students and educators see silver linings in technology-based testing.

Of particular interest to AACTE members should be the implications for greater attention to developing assessment literacy in educator preparation. The data suggest that new educators, teachers and administrators alike, are entering the profession ill equipped to use assessment data to inform their practice.

Among the recommendations made in the report are the development of a common vocabulary for the different types of assessment and use of that common vocabulary by teacher preparation programs to focus on developing assessment literacy. The key is to ensure new educators are prepared for entrance into the profession better equipped to communicate with students, parents, and other educators and to use assessment data more effectively to drive student learning.

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Saroja Barnes

Senior Director for Professional Issues, AACTE