Assessment Education Perspectives

Growth vs Proficiency Is Just as Important for Educators as Their Students

Growth vs. Proficiency is a hot topic in education and in assessment circles. But that topic of growth extends beyond academic growth for our students. Growth is important for the educators serving those students as well. One area of critical importance that educators need to be mindful of is in the area of assessment literacy. What’s your plan to continue your assessment literacy journey? Especially given that an assessment literate educator is more effectively supporting equity in a classroom and more effectively serving all students on their education journey, this is an important question to ask.

Rick Stiggins, in Revolutionize Assessment, states that, “If we expand our vision of formative assessment to include student/teacher partnerships, we can empower students to understand the learning targets, gather continuous evidence of their growth, recognize how to move consistently forward toward success, make instructional decisions that enhance their own learning, and feel – at long last – in control of their own academic well-being.”

The October 19, 2017 blog authored by Catherine Crenshaw, shares an eloquent story of Ms. Crenshaw and one of her students, Ervin. Because Ervin needs extra support in reading, Crenshaw has actively deployed strong assessment strategies to help him grow as a reader, all the while taking care to nurture his love of reading. Without a high level of assessment literacy, Crenshaw would not be able to adequately support Ervin’s needs.

However, the vision of formative assessment is one thing and the concrete follow through on that vision is another. This is where an educator’s professional growth plan for assessment literacy enters the conversation.

Dr. Dee Fabry, a member of the National Task Force on Assessment Education, has worked with Stiggins to design an advanced certificate for assessment literacy, currently offered by National University. In designing this curriculum, Fabry takes educators on a journey to assess their current level of assessment literacy, facilitates learning around “What is Assessment Literacy and what is an assessment literate person?” This same curriculum provides the backbone for the Assessment Literacy Boot Camps currently being facilitated by members of the National Task Force on Assessment Education for a variety of education stakeholders like the National PTA, educators statewide in South Carolina, and more.

Tweet: Growth vs. proficiency – Just as important for educators as their students #edchat #educationWorking specifically with educators to reflect on their current levels of assessment literacy and then walking them through the development of their own assessment literacy professional growth plan, Fabry and members of the Task Force clearly explain what assessment literacy is, help them self-assess their own knowledge, dispositions, and performance, raise awareness of how assessment literacy supports equity for the students in their classroom, and finally draft a new vision and individual professional growth plan of assessment literacy that can be followed as soon as they are back in their classrooms.

A belief in the adage, “First comes knowledge, then comes action”, the professional growth plan around assessment literacy supports educators in understanding where they are now and where they want to go. Isn’t that at the heart of an educators work with students? We sit side by side with them, listen to their dreams, assess their current state of readiness, then in partnership with students, we help them map out how to move forward in a way that sets them up for success.

Knowing and acknowledging that this is what we do as educators with our students, it just makes sense that we would self-assess and based on that analysis, set in place the next steps that ensure we continue to add tools to our educator toolbox to better serve our students in this area. Growth, in all directions as an educator, is just as important for us as it is for our students.

For more information on Assessment Literacy Boot Camps, please contact Judy Harris at

Judy Harris

Judy Harris brings over 17 years of teaching experience to her role as Policy & Advocacy Director at NWEA. She is a National Board Certified Teacher, a Reading Specialist, middle school Language Arts teacher, and licensed administrator. She was a member of the Joint Assessment Task Force for Oregon and co-authored The New Path for Oregon: System of Assessment to Empower Meaningful Student Learning. She was a teacher leader and Professional Development Provider for SCALE/WestEd. Ms. Harris served on the National Education Association’s (NEA) National Every Student Succeeds Act Implementation Team and the state level ESSA Implementation Team in Oregon. She was nominated by the Oregon Congressional delegation to serve on the U.S. Department of Education’s ESSA Negotiated Rulemaking Committee in 2016. She has presented on student assessment and equity at numerous conferences including the National Indian Education Association, the NEA Minority and Women’s Summit, the Symposium on Student Assessment, and the National Council of Urban Education Associations.