In the recently released PDK/Gallup poll of the public’s attitudes toward the public schools, results included a review of American attitudes toward assessment. The poll found that 64% of Americans said that there is too much emphasis on standardized testing in the public schools. The poll also found that Americans are “ambivalent” about comparing test scores in their local schools with other districts, states and nations – part of the original intent of accountability test scores under No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
One reading of the poll results is that they reflect a growing negative public perception about mandated, accountability tests. No doubt there is room for improvement. But these results also highlight a gap in public understanding about assessments and the different ways they serve the instructional process.
Educators are beginning to agree that assessment literacy—or the knowledge of the basic principles of sound assessment practice, including terminology, development, administration, analysis, and standards of quality—is an essential component to successful teaching and learning.
For that reason, and to address this gap in understanding, Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) announced a significant initiative on improving assessment literacy for all. The initiative includes a national Task Force on assessment education, to be convened in October, and this website.
NWEA believes in partnering with practitioners and experts in the field to help move this work forward. To that end, three key advisors will help guide this work. They include Rick Stiggins, founder and CEO of the Assessment Training Institute; Terri Akey, Co-Director, Center for Research, Evaluation, and Assessment at Education Northwest; and Bernice Stafford, most recently Vice President, Implementation and Education Partnerships at Evans Newton Incorporated and Board Chair at WestEd.
The advisors and Task Force will guide efforts to improve assessment literacy nationwide, improve pre-service assessment education, and work to bring resources designed to foster a better understanding of assessment and its role in learning through AssessmentLiteracy.org.
If you haven’t already, take a look around our site and see some of the resources available, designed to:
- Understanding assessment literacy – helping K12 educators gain a better understanding of assessment, its purpose and the different types of assessments available to them
- Interpret assessment data – making sense of the results
- Applying data to inform teaching and learning – involving students and parents in dialogue
You can follow the goings-on in assessment literacy here on our blog or via Facebook or Twitter.
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