Lost in the excitement of this week’s NCLB waiver waivers and NCTQ’s teacher prep scorecards was a new report coming out of Stanford University’s Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, or SCOPE. The report offers up the thought-provoking title, Criteria for Higher-Quality Assessment.
With a tip of the cap to Common Core State Standards (CCSS), Criteria for Higher-Quality Assessment offers up some guidance that “can be used by assessment developers, policymakers, and educators as they work to create and adopt assessments that promote deeper learning of 21st century skills that students need to succeed in today’s knowledge-based economy.”
Obviously not as sexy as the wavier waivers (or the non-waiver of waivers, depending on who you talk to), it is an interesting topic. And it definitely helps when this guidance is coming from a team of authors who have been or currently are involved in CCSS or the development of Common Core assessments. The SCOPE report offers a who’s who of authors, including Linda Darling-Hammong, Joan Herman, Eva Baker, P. David Pearson, and Lauren Resnick (all told, the piece boasts 20 “authors”).
And what does the esteemed panel offer up? Noting that “No single assessment can evaluate all of the kinds of learning we value for students or meet all of the goals held by parents, practitioners, and policymakers,” the authors advocate five criteria that should be applied in the development of assessments moving forward:
- New assessments should tap the “higher-level” cognitive skills that allow students to transfer their learning to new situations
- Assessments should evaluate the critical abilities articulated in the standards, such as communication (speaking, reading, writing, and listening in multimedia forms), collaboration, modeling, complex problem solving, research, experimentation, and evaluation
- Assessments should be as rigorous as those of the leading education countries, in terms of the kinds of tasks they present as well as the level of performance they expect
- Assessment tasks should also represent the curriculum content in ways that respond to instruction and have value for guiding and informing teaching
- An assessment should represent well the knowledge and skills it intends to measure, be used appropriately for intended purposes, and have positive consequences for instruction and for test-takers, guiding better decisions rather than restricting opportunities
All of these points seem reasonable. All of these points seem like something the entire education community should strive for. The big question, then, is whether any of the current testmakers — particularly those who construct and sell the dreaded “high-stakes tests” would say they don’t already adhere to these five criteria and won’t continue to follow as they develop new summative tests aligned to the Common Core.