Assessment Education Perspectives

4 Pillars of Assessment Literacy

When educators are assessment literate, they are informed, reflective, and proactive practitioners. Here are four key pillars of assessment literacy.

When educators are assessment literate, they are informed, reflective, and proactive practitioners. Educators in classrooms actively seek out evidence of student misunderstanding to address during the course of instruction; all educators actively seek out evidence of student needs to inform educational practice and policy. All educators regard both formal and informal assessment as means to continuously improve their own practices. Assessment-literate educators are aware of the harm that flawed assessment practices do to students and they collaborate with colleagues to make programmatic and personal changes that increase student learning and sense of self-efficacy.

This site is all about assessment literacy – understanding assessment, interpreting assessment data, and applying assessment results where they matter. Let’s look at four pillars of assessment literacy, as we see them.

Assessment-literate educators demonstrate data literacy:

  • They know the different kinds of data that exist and which kind of data to use for which decision.
  • They evaluate the accuracy and sufficiency of each kind of data they will use.
  • They transform data from a variety of sources (classroom, school, district, state) into actionable information to guide decisions.
  • They hold themselves accountable for ethical generation, interpretation, and application of assessment data.

Assessment-literate educators know how to create and/or select high-quality assessments:

  • They create and/or select assessments that balance formative and summative purposes to meet the information needs of all stakeholders, including students.
  • They establish clear learning targets that form the basis of instruction and assessment.
  • They ensure that their assignments and assessments match the learning targets that have been or will be taught.
  • They select assessment methods to match types of learning targets.
  • They create and/or select assessment items, tasks, and scoring guides that meet standards of quality.
  • They sample learning appropriately.
  • They control for factors that can bias results.

Assessment-literate educators know how to integrate assessment practices and assessment results into instructional decisions:

  • They use formal and informal assessment processes and tools for the purpose of diagnosing instructional needs.
  • They interpret results accurately and act on them appropriately to increase student learning.
  • They involve students in the assessment process, developing students’ ability to self-assess, set goals for further learning, and self-regulate.

Assessment-literate educators know how to communicate accurately about student learning:

  • They adhere to sound grading practices.
  • They keep students informed of their learning progress and the intended learning targets, using both qualitative and quantitative data.
  • They keep parents informed of their children’s learning progress.
  • They are able to explain accurately to all stakeholders the meaning and appropriate use of results from all assessments given.

Over time, we’ll be exploring each of these pillars of assessment literacy in separate posts, so be sure to come back!


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