Assessment Education Perspectives

Two Key Factors in Achieving More Balance in Assessments

Two Key Factors in Creating a Balanced Assessment Plan

Back in October one of our partners, NWEA, published a blog by April Roethel titled Today’s Educators and Goldilocks – Making Tough Decisions for Positive Outcomes, that’s worth sharing. In her post, April makes a connection between Goldilocks and today’s educators and in particular, their need to make difficult decisions that have measurable impact. Educators (teachers, principals, and district administrators) are faced with the challenge of creating a smart balance when it comes to assessment choices. As she states in her post:

The key lies in the concept of balance: balancing needs against resources and finding the right balance of assessment instruments and procedures. The “just right” amount of assessment takes as little time away from classroom instruction as possible, yet yields trustworthy information that supports the learning of every child. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach; each school’s unique needs inform what’s right in each classroom.

The post lays out two important steps to crafting a more balanced approach to assessment.

  1. Clearly articulate your assessment needs. Before you start putting assessments into play, you need to clearly understand what standards you are looking to meet, what measures of growth really matter, and what activities will have an instructional impact. Taking into consideration even non-academic student needs means you need to think holistically and include educational support personnel such as counselors.
  1. Understand the full array of assessments currently used in each class and grade. This might include formative assessment that the teacher uses on a day-to-day basis, quizzes, end of course tests, papers, and other class projects or tasks.

Armed with a strong understanding of what you need to achieve and what you already have in place will help guide your decision for what assessment instruments or resources are needed. This assessment and data literacy are part of our mission and crucial to delivering an assessment system designed to create positive outcomes for student learning.

As April concludes in her blog:

There is no such thing as an assessment system that fits everyone, but each school can create one that is just right for their students. Such a balanced approach to assessment must include multiple measures, feedback opportunities, and measurement credibility—all this will ensure your assessment approach truly supports student learning, and that’s what matters most.

Goldilocks didn’t get her choices right the first time in looking for a “just right” solution, but armed with all the tools educators have at their disposal, making tough assessment decisions does not have to be daunting. What factors come into play when you make assessment decisions? Share your ideas at our Twitter feed (@Assess2Learn) or on our Facebook page.

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A.L.