The learning sciences continue to inform us of how students learn and this in turn guides how we teach them. When these ideas are applied to student-centered assessment a broad-spectrum blueprint emerges.
First, is the idea that a balanced and comprehensive approach to assessment will benefit all learners. In this type of system multiple methods are valued. A spectrum of strategies is routinely used, from in-the-moment classroom assessment to large-scale national and international measures. Secondly, a comprehensive system means that assessment is informative in multiple ways: Immediately in the classroom, locally at the school and district level, as well as for state and national policymakers.
Student centered assessment includes these features:
- A balanced continuum from formative to summative
- Evidence comes from a range of strategies from traditional tests to alternative measures
- Assessments guide and inform next steps in teaching and learning
- Growth measures are emphasized
- Assessment is mastery-based rather than time-bound
- Students take ownership of their learning and use assessment for improvement
- Students are actively engaged in assessing
- Motivational strategies are part of assessment (i.e. choice, low anxiety practices)
- Input from multiple assessors; teacher, self, and peer is valued
- Emphasizes real-world applications of learning
- Technology is used purposefully to support and enrich assessment
- Outcomes are informative and usable by a variety of audiences
- Interpretations and decisions are supported by the learning sciences
From students to school leaders and from district to global perspectives, no single assessment can provide all the necessary information needed about learners and learning. Only a balanced and comprehensive assessment system can truly be student centered. In this system the focus is on learning, broad in content, reasonable in delivery, sound in design, and equitable for all learners.
More information on these ideas is available from Students at the Center, especially their reports on a New Era in Educational Assessment by David Conley and Assessing Learning by Heidi Andrade, Kristen Huff, and Georgia Brooke.