- Educators nationwide are rethinking assessment methods amid growing concerns of excessive testing and the influence of test-based accountability measures. The result is that students are "taught to the test." Three educators shared their alternative approaches to assessment with eSchool News.
- K-4 literacy specialist Linda Baker said that tests don't necessarily measure students' literacy progress, as many are already "reluctant readers," so her school utilizes progress monitoring based on firsthand experience and data provided by a literacy teaching program.
- Additionally, Maury County Public Schools Superintendent Chris Marczak says his district assesses progress against its seven "Keys to College and Career Readiness," while first-through-third-grade teacher Jude Miqueli said she has students create digital portfolios chronicling their achievements (which can include examples of positive behavior and teamwork, work samples and books read) — and both efforts also utilize data gathered via apps and other platforms.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) returns a significant amount of decision-making power to states, assessments included. With implementation fast approaching, states and the districts within them are piloting a number of alternative models for assessing student progress. The greater autonomy comes as concerns about over-testing and teaching to the test crested over the last few years with increasingly visible opt-out movements in several states.
Even before ESSA, however, some states were creating a more welcoming environment for educators to experiment with innovation. Over the past few decades, New Hampshire has been progressing toward a competency-based approach to K-12, and educators in the Sanborn Regional School District are piloting an exam based around its rubrics for the CARES (Cooperation, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy and Self-Regulation) skills it measures progress around under the state's "Work-Study Practices."
And in some classrooms, educators have found that assessments can be better targeted around student progress with short check-in problems — especially relevant amid increasing efforts to personalize learning.