Assessment is a process. It involves gathering information on what students know, understand, and can do. It then requires an analysis of the evidence in order to make accurate inferences and informed decisions about students, instruction, and policy.
Assessment systems are built on policies that define learning outcomes, prescribe assessment methods, and regulate reporting, and decisions. Assessment systems are complex in that they incorporate the content, timing and focus; the strategies, breadth, and purpose; accountability and response to an array of assessments.
It takes a whole village to build an effective system that integrates:
1. Mission, purpose, and values
2. Complex learning with practicable assessments
3. Relevance, objectivity, and fairness
Some questions all educators need to be asking about emerging assessment systems are:
- What are we measuring and why?
- Who are the assessments serving and benefiting?
- How are we measuring?
- What are the effects of accompanying incentives and consequences?
These are our children who are pushed to achieve, our teachers who bear the responsibility, and our communities that deserve graduates prepared to contribute to our complex world. Let’s make sure the assessment systems are the ones we need, not the ones our policy makes think we deserve.