- Educators value the practice of assessing students to measure their learning, but barriers remain to including assessments in classrooms without disrupting instruction, according to survey results gathered from Instructure, a learning management system provider, and Hanover Research.
- Administrators were more likely than teachers — 85% versus 43% — to say they are comfortable designing, selecting and administering assessments. Administrators were also more likely (55%) to believe assessment results should play a greater role in state accountability systems compared to teachers (10%).
- The survey findings show there's a need to respond to teachers' concerns about assessments taking away from instructional time, as well as to provide teachers with supports for assessment practices, according to the Instructure report.
When asked about various assessment types, educators identified formative assessments — the informal or formal testing or observation of students to monitor learning — as the most used approach. Summative testing, which is used to evaluate student learning against a standard or benchmark, was the second most frequently used.
The survey also asked about usage of interim assessments, performance or task-based assessments, online assessments and proficiency scales. The survey was conducted in April 2023 and received responses from 550 teachers, 340 school and district level administrators, and 110 assessment specialists.
Educators in general are less likely in 2023 to use teacher-created formative assessments, with 76% saying they use this approach compared to 84% in 2021. The decrease could suggest schools are tightening assessment content and consistency, the report said.
And although educators said summative assessments can cause teacher and student anxiety, 68% said they have positive views of the format, up from 55% in 2021. The report recommends schools acknowledge assessment anxiety by encouraging students to talk about their experiences and by helping teachers build their assessment skills.
Assessment and accountability reform is needed to encourage innovative practices that allow students to demonstrate what they know in a variety of ways, according to a separate report by KnowledgeWorks, a nonprofit that works with schools and other partners to support student learning. The report was a collaboration with nine other organizations, including the Center for Assessment and the Center for Innovation in Education.
The information and recommendations in the report are based on the input of more than 200 students, educators, policymakers and others who met in June during a Trailblazers Summit in Denver.
A major barrier to implementing student-centered education — an approach focused on students' strengths and areas for growth rather than test scores and grades — is assessment systems that require students to have the same testing experiences, the report said.
For example, the KnowledgeWorks report recommends that rather than having curriculum and instruction driven by test preparation, curriculum and instruction should be focused around students' development of essential knowledge and skills that can be used in a variety of contexts, such as collaboration and communication.
And instead of assessments based on recall and basic reasoning, reformed assessment practices should focus on higher order thinking, the report said.
In general, higher order thinking skills include the ability to analyze, synthesize, make connections among concepts, and apply knowledge gained in new ways. Performance assessments — where a student is asked to produce or perform to demonstrate their knowledge — are one example of including higher order thinking into measurements of students' learning.
"Our current systems of assessment and accountability fail to meet the needs of far too many learners. In contrast to current systems of school quality measurement, a learner-centered system would place students and their communities at the center of the system's design," said Carlos Moreno, co-executive director of Big Picture Learning, in a statement. Big Picture Learning is a nonprofit that supports a more equitable and student-centered education approach.