Future of testing in education: effective and equitable assessment systems

Author(s): Jimenez, Laura; Modaffari, Jamil

Organisation(s): Center for American Progress

Date: 2021

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Assessments are a way for stakeholders in education to understand what students know and can do. They can take many forms, including but not limited to paper and pencil or computer-adaptive formats. However, assessments do not have to be tests in the traditional sense at all; rather, they can be carried out through teacher observations of students or portfolios of students’ work. Regardless of form, when assessments are well designed and a component of a system of teaching and learning that includes high-quality instruction and materials, they are part of the solution and not a source of the problem. Thus, debates on whether or not to assess students fail to create a worthwhile discussion about testing in schools and how to make assessments better. When they are well built, standardized and nonstandardized assessments play a useful role in providing educational equity - that is, helping all students achieve at high levels. Accordingly, this report offers an alternative to the argument that all assessments are harmful: an idea for what role all assessments should play in education and the federal and state policy structure needed to make this a reality. This analysis of testing in schools shows what the current debate gets wrong, and how educators and policymakers can create a future where assessments are a more effective part of the teaching and learning system.

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