Assessment Education Perspectives

Key Traits of Assessment Literate Students, Educators, and Parents


In an effort to address the need for assessment-literate educators in a positive way, the National Task Force on Assessment Education was launched in October 2015. The Task Force is comprised of three advisors and 24 educators from 17 states, including pre-service and in-service educators, assessment experts and thought leaders. The goal of the Task Force is to be a collective voice that elevates the national dialogue on assessment education, develops innovative approaches to assessment literacy, and advances existing best practices in assessment.

When we think about assessment literacy, it’s important to understand that each contributor to student academic well-being through assessment translates this universal meaning into specific capabilities defined by their role. Students, teachers, school leaders, policy makers, and parents and the community have unique traits they need to consider.

Students understand that they can contribute to their own academic success when they actively seek:

  • To understand why their learning is being assessed in each context,
  • To understand the learning target they are trying to master,
  • To have confidence that they receive accurate information about their learning progress,
  • To have the opportunity to ask for and receive the information they need to help them grow, and
  • To feel that they have an important role in promoting their own success.

An assessment literate teacher:

  • Knows how instructional decision-making fits into the balanced system of assessment, users of which they are a member,
  • Identifies clear and appropriate purposes for each assessment,
  • Is a master of the learning targets that are to be assessed,
  • Can create and select high-quality assessments aligned to those targets,
  • Implements assessments equitably, making appropriate modifications based on student need,
  • Employs a variety of assessments that are appropriate for the students and learning targets,
  • Analyzes the results of assessments given their knowledge of students, and makes instructional adjustments based on those results,
  • Understands how to tailor the communication of results to the needs of the intended user,
  • Masters the use of formative assessment to support student learning and can teach students how to act assertively on their own assessment results to take charge of their own learning success,
  • Partners with colleagues, their students’ families, and the community, using assessment results to identify needs that can be best met collaboratively,
  • Sees the development of their assessment literacy as a career-long learning process, and
  • Advocates for sound assessment practices in instructional and/or policy settings.

Tweet: Key traits of assessment literate students, educators, and parents #edchat #educationAn assessment literate principal and district or other school leaders:

  • Understands and advocates for the development of balanced assessment systems that meet the information needs of all assessment purposes,
  • Understands ways in which the school system can both promote and impede good assessment practice, and works to improve the conditions in the system to support good assessment practice,
  • Promotes through supervision and policy ethical assessment practices in all contexts,
  • Sees learning target clarity and appropriateness as a foundation of sound assessment practice,
  • Establishes the expectation that faculty members will continuously develop and hone their assessment literacy, and recognizes the faculty who become leaders and model accomplished assessment practices,
  • Sees the development of their own assessment literacy as a career-long learning process,
  • Understands how assessment information can be used to strengthen partnerships with students’ families and the community,
  • Promotes effective communication of results both in formative and summative contexts, and
  • Advocates for student involvement in their own learning through the use of assessment as a teaching and learning strategy.

Whether working as an assessment literate leader at local, state, or federal levels, as an elected official or as an appointed educational leader, policy makers who allocate educational resources do so in ways that:

  • Honor the diverse purposes assessment can serve in improving schools,
  • Demand ethical uses,
  • Promote clear targets,
  • Assure assessment literacy throughout the educational system,
  • Promote effective communication of assessment results to intended users, and
  • Maximize the quality of the motivational environment for students and professional educators.

Assessment literate parents and interested community members understand that our students—their children— are entitled to clear targets, quality assessments, effective communication of results and equity of motivation, and they act assertively to protect those rights. In a broader sense, they are advocates for sound assessment practices for the sake of their own children and for nurturing effective schools in their communities.

The development and promotion of an assessment literate school culture is a shared responsibility across roles. All involved must take the initiative in advancing their own expertise throughout their careers, as well as helping others to understand the principles of sound assessment practice.