Assessment education matters, and we are happy to share a new site that brings together diverse perspectives and provides examples of how we can work together to advance assessment education. Here, Heather Lageman, a member of the National Task Force on Assessment Education, calls for reflection and action on improving assessment literacy to support learning and success for all students.
Hope. Trust. Communication. Brilliance. Fearless risk-taking. Support. Vulnerability. Value. These are the touchstones of my tribe. I am honored to be a part of a group of such open, courageous, intelligent people. These are the elements that make our Assessment Literacy tribe a place of trust, worth, creativity, connection and innovation.
Not quite the words you would think of when you consider assessment? Join me for the journey to assessment enlightenment that begins with a very basic understanding of the term assess and foundational belief that we can all learn and grow. The word assess comes from the Latin assidere, which means to sit beside. Literally then, to assess means to sit beside the learner. And that is the beauty of our tribe – our laser focus on partnering with all stakeholders – educators, administrators and policymakers – to support progress and learning growth for all.
As Kelly Goodrich, who convened the National Task Force on Assessment Education, often reminds us, “this is a time of flexibility and potential.” In the field of education, it is our time to re-instill a sense of hope with policymakers and educators at all levels, and assessment literacy is a tool for getting to the core of what we all fundamentally want – student success.
Assessment literacy for all education stakeholders creates a system that uses assessment appropriately and equitably to support teaching and learning. By defining the principles of assessment and asking pointed questions, such as:
- What is the purpose of assessment?
- Does it support equity?
- How will the assessment be used?
we begin to shape a balanced assessment model. Thinking more comprehensively about what benefits students in our buildings enables us to use assessments appropriately as part of the teaching and learning process. Thus we can lay the foundation by developing and implementing assessments that accurately reflect student learning, and then use the assessment process and its results to either support or verify achievement (depending on the context). When assessment design and implementation is confidently and competently administered by teachers who are dedicated to promoting student mastery, then the assessment process becomes a clear instrument to help students see that success is within their reach.
This is also the time to create a culture of questioning that inspires people to learn and grow together. Warren Berger, the author of A More Beautiful Question, talks about how when the world gets more complicated and complex, we need to question more because we have to be learning and changing. He asserts that we need questioning more than ever, and we are less comfortable with it. There is inherent power in creating a culture of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas and build our capacity to grow as questioners….and as listeners.
As a member of our tribe, Missy Wall-Mitchell, so wisely stated, “culture sets your perspective; perspective sets priorities.” In the spirit of questioning and collaboration, Scott Reed, another Assessment Literacy tribe member, profoundly shared Harvard University’s Dean of Education, James Ryan’s, Five Essential Questions in Life with us at a recent convening to frame our questioning conversation.
- Wait, what?
- I wonder, why/if?
- Couldn’t we at least?
- How can I help?
- What really matters?
Bonus question: And did you get what you wanted out of life, even so?
It is humbling and a true honor and joy to serve on the National Task Force on Assessment Education with colleagues who are such a source of inspiration as they empower and enable this kind of substantive assessment literacy work. I knew I had found my tribe as we reflected on the words and call to action of John F. Kennedy:
“If not us, who? If not now, when?”
It is indeed our time to inquire, to question, to create and to act.