How Much is Enough? 

Sufficiency Considerations for Competency-Based Assessment Systems

Many schools have turned to competency-based education for meeting both equity and excellence goals. Competency-based education requires students to demonstrate mastery of key knowledge and skills rather than merely meeting some passing score “on average.” 

Local assessment data are often used to evaluate student mastery of identified competencies. There are many measurement challenges that arise when using assessments to support decisions about students’ competence. This blog focuses on one—sufficiency.

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When It Comes to Getting Summative Information from Interim Assessments, You Can’t Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

Nathan Dadey, Associate, Center for Assessment

“You can’t have your cake and eat it too,” is a well-known idiom. In the case of educational measurement, it reflects the dilemma posed by a requirement for a single, summative score, and might read something like: “you can’t get summative scores for accountability purposes without the secure administration of carefully constructed forms in a defined window.”

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Improving accountability: Where do we go from here?

How Can We Better Leverage Accountability Systems to Improve Student Outcomes?

By Chris Domaleski, Damian Betebenner, and Susan Lyons

In recent years, assessment and accountability have become charged terms to many. In fact, school accountability systems, influenced by results from standardized achievement tests, are among the most contentious aspects of contemporary education policy. 

But how did we get here–and where do we go? This ambitious topic is one of several we are poised to tackle at the Center’s annual Reidy Interactive Lecture Series (RILS) on September 27-28, 2018. 

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Data in Schools­–Understanding What it is, How it’s Used, and How We Can Improve

An Assessment of the Primary Challenges of Using Data in Educational Decision-Making

Discussions of data use in schools often lead to two commonly heard refrains:  

  1. “Educators are drowning in an ocean of data”
  2. “Schools are a data desert”

When a situation is characterized by such polar opposite viewpoints, it is a signal that there are fundamental challenges that must be understood and overcome. In this case, if there are data in schools, why aren’t those data being used effectively (or at all) by teachers to support their instructional decision-making? What are the challenges?

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A Tricky Balance: The Challenges and Opportunities of Balanced Systems of Assessment

The seminal publication, Knowing What Students Know: The Science and Design of Educational Assessment (NRC, 2001), crystalised the call for balanced systems of assessment. Yet almost 20 years have passed and there are very few examples of well-functioning systems, particularly systems that incorporate state summative tests.  Why? In spite of recent efforts to articulate principles of assessment systems, creating balanced assessment systems is really hard!  

 

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The Center at NCSA 2018

State assessment teams, assessment industry staff, and other assessment specialists gather each June at the CCSSO National Conference on Student Assessment.  Historically, the annual conference provides an opportunity for the Center team and our partners to share innovative solutions and our latest thinking on the most pressing assessment and accountability issues of the day. This year, seven Center team members participated in eleven sessions over the three-day conference: Chris Domaleski, Carla Evans, Brian Gong, Leslie Keng, Erika Landl, Scott Marion, and Joseph Martineau

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The Center at 20: Reliability of No Child Left Behind Accountability Designs

This is the first in a series of posts highlighting key pieces of work from the Center’s first twenty years.  Each post will feature a document, set of tools, or body of work in areas such as large-scale assessment, accountability systems, growth, educator evaluation, learning progressions, and assessment systems. In keeping with the Center’s 20th anniversary theme, Leveraging the Lessons of the Past, our goal is to apply the lessons learned from this past work to help us improve assessment and accountability practices for the future.

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When it Comes to School Ratings, Meaning Matters

What’s in a Grade, Anyway?

Letter grades are a popular way to describe performance. I’m referring to those same letter grades you received in school - A to F.  We all know that the coveted A is “superb,” and an F warns that performance is completely deficient. What’s a C?  Perhaps it is used to communicate “good enough” (but not great), or possibly it means “average.” Should we worry that those are often two different things?  

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A Look Back and a Look Ahead After 20 Years of Assessment and Accountability Work

The Center at 20: Leveraging the lessons of the past to improve assessment and accountability practices for the future

It’s been 20 years, and everyone at The Center for Assessment is excited to celebrate this milestone anniversary with a very special Reidy Interactive Lecture Series (RILS). 

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The Need for Program Evaluation to Support Accountability Implementation

Even the best designs still have a burden of proof.

Accountability systems are supposed to incentivize behavior that promotes equity in educational opportunity and leads to positive student outcomes. But how do we really know? Even the best designs still have a burden of proof. Applying program evaluation principles that use school identification are powerful tools to examine accountability's impact, usefulness, and relevance. Program evaluation facilitates the collection, use, and interpretation of the right information to improve or understand a system or its impact. 

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FEATURED INITIATIVES

 
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ESSA Accountability

Center associates are supporting more than a dozen states responding to the Every Student Succeeds Act with inventive and technically defensible accountability designs.

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Innovative Assessment Systems

The Center is leading the way in helping states and districts design and implement innovative assessment systems. The Performance Assessment of Competency Education (PACE) project in New Hampshire is a notable example of the Center’s work in this area.

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Comparability

Assessment comparability continues to be a challenging topic. The Center is working with states and other partners to address comparability issues with consortium as well as with other innovative assessment systems.

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Watch this short video to hear New Hampshire and Louisiana leaders talk about the assessment opportunities available under ESSA through the Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority.

CENTER NEWS

Jeri Thompson
Text dependent analysis is much more than an item type on a state test. The Center is working with states and districts to understand the…

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Charlie DePascale
Charlie DePascale and Chris Domaleski collaborated with the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth (MassINC) to produce a novel paper,…

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Juan D'Brot
Center staff developed a series of resources to support states as they implement their new statewide accountability systems under the Every Student…

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Carla M. Evans image
Carla Evans and Chris Domaleski prepared a technical brief with the National Center on Educational Outcomes to help states implement federal…

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The Center engages in deep partnerships with state and district education leaders to increase student learning through more meaningful educational assessment and accountability practices.

 

Blog Recent Posts

The Need for Program Evaluation to Support Accountability Implementation

How Summer Grilling Illustrates the Differences Between Formative and Summative Evaluation

When I last discussed the need for program evaluation to support accountability implementation, I used the unwelcome issue of car trouble to frame the need for evaluation when designing, developing, and implementing accountability systems. Now, with temperatures dropping as we move through fall, I want to reference a pleasing summer activity–outdoor grilling–to differentiate between formative and summative evaluation. 

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Text Dependent Analysis for 21st Century Education

An Item Type to Drive Deeper Instruction and Improve Curriculum Decisions

The world of work in the 21st Century requires that people are able to critically read and analyze a variety of texts and other literacy materials. Text dependent analysis (TDA) is a curriculum and assessment tool to help prepare students for these literacy demands. 

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Stop Training the Trainers

Moving Toward a Research-based Approach for Improving Assessment Literacy

“Train-the-trainers” is commonly employed as an approach for attempting to spread new learning from individuals who attended a professional development experience to others who did not attend. Unfortunately, this model often works like the children’s game of “telephone”, where the message is mangled by the time it gets around the circle. I am struck that “train-the-trainers” continues to be so popular with so little evidence that it works to improve the implementation of complex knowledge and skills.

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