Assessment Education Perspectives

ESSA and Assessment Literacy: Serving the Education Ecosystem

ESSA and Assessment Literacy: Serving the Education Ecosystem

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides states and districts a tremendous opportunity to strengthen the quality of teaching and learning by ensuring that stakeholders in their education ecosystem are assessment literate. Why is this important? Assessment literate educational leaders have an opportunity to do two very important things:

  1. They can rest easy knowing that they are measuring what they need to measure using the right vehicle; and
  2. They are collecting the quality data they need to make informed decisions to best support student success

By explicitly incorporating training and professional development that supports assessment literacy into state ESSA applications, states can enhance student learning by leveraging funds to develop assessment policies and systems that are in balance and that reflect quality assessment practices. States can use the flexibility inherent in ESSA to ensure that students, parents, teachers, school leaders, and school districts better develop an understanding of the principles and practices of sound assessment that ultimately support student learning.

The National Task Force on Assessment Education, in conjunction with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), just released ESSA and Assessment Literacy: Serving the Education Ecosystem, a guidance document for states and districts developing their ESSA plans and applications. The document helps states and districts discover provisions and flexibility in ESSA that can be used to promote assessment literacy and develop rich assessment systems. It outlines specific policies, practices, and language that improve individual student learning, ensure greater education equity, and maximize instructional time.

As the guidance document suggests:

Schools can use quality assessment practices to help overcome inequities, narrow achievement gaps, promote universal high school graduation, help struggling learners find their own success, ensure digital competence, and make sure all students are ready for college or workplace training.

The Task Force, launched in 2015, works to address critical gaps in assessment education in teacher preparation programs and includes education leaders from both pre-service and in-service organizations. It is part of the Assessment Literacy initiative from NWEA, which also includes our website,, that offers resources to foster understanding of the role of assessment in learning. The Task Force is comprised of two advisors and 23 educators from 17 states, representing school districts, state departments of education, universities, and education organizations.

To access this new guiding document, click here. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or follow our blog here for the latest news, updates, and information on how to stay assessment literate.