- Following educator criticism of "interim assessments" created to identify areas of weakness for students ahead of Spring Smarter Balanced Common Core exams, California is working to improve the tests to make them more useful, EdSource reports.
- The interim tests are optional, but they have been adopted by teachers hoping to improve their methods and focus on content ahead of annual state exams that measure accountability.
- According to EdSource, a panel consisting of three teachers and a district administrator raised concerns to California's Assembly Education Committee about a lack of detail in reports based on the interim exams, citing a lack of questions, student responses or specific standards in the reports.
Federally mandated accountability exams can cause a great deal of concern for many an educator due to many states tying them to teacher evaluations, as well as their use in grading schools. In that light, it's no surprise that teachers would be willing to adopt an interim assessment if it can provide insight to help them improve student performance. But that only matters if the data they receive from said exam is clear and useful.
That California is acting on educators' concerns is a positive sign, though. As a panel at SXSWedu in March made clear, teachers are often K-12's most untapped engines of innovation, and the best way to ensure approaches work is to take their insight and feedback into consideration rather than relying on top-down mandates. After all, the people who are in the classrooms every day likely know best what's going to work for their students as compared to those removed from the front lines.