Assessing student learning, including varied, valid, and reliable metrics, instruments, and practices.
Assessment is important because it can demonstrate whether districts are meeting their educational goals, and its results can affect decisions about student advancement, instructional needs, and funding. While standardized testing has dominated the assessment conversation in the recent past, districts are now looking beyond tests towards measures aligned with their goals of boosting student engagement and 21st century skill development. At the classroom level, teachers are rethinking grading, using formative assessment and portfolios to invite students to set and monitor their own learning goals. However, it can be difficult to ensure that these new instruments and practices are valid and reliable. Explore the challenges related to Assessment -- 21st Century Skills Assessment, Measuring Student Engagement, Formative Assessment, and Grading -- below.
21st Century Skills Assessment
Many districts are looking beyond statewide assessments to broader definitions and measures of student achievement. They are focusing on boosting “21st century skills” such as critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity. But these skills do not yet have widely adopted tools for assessment. In this context, how can districts support students and recognize progress as they develop 21st century skills?
Many teachers are working to implement formative assessments to gauge student learning in real-time, and to help students set and monitor their own learning goals using data. While data collected during everyday learning — through student-driven projects, performance tasks, and digital learning tools — can provide valuable insights, these strategies and tools are in various stages of implementation. How can districts support educators to use formative assessment to improve student learning using evidence?
Teachers, students, and parents agree that grading can be subjective, and that grades may not always reflect student mastery of skills and content. Many schools are also thinking about how grades can provide more purposeful feedback to help students improve. How can schools shift from letter grades toward a more objective system of grading?