Our goal is to support your school, district or state in navigating assessment and accountability to help improve student learning. Here, we share the latest news and views from the Center for Assessment team.

    Blog posts

    Alignment Turns 25 This Year–So Now We Ask, What Are its Prospects?

    The Road from Defining and Measuring Alignment to Effectively Using it in the Design of Assessments and Assessment Systems

    Alignment turns 25 this year. Happy Birthday, Alignment! Alignment burst onto the K-12 assessment landscape with the Improving America’s Schools Act (IASA) – the 1994 reauthorization of ESEA. Among other Title 1 requirements, IASA required states to develop “assessments aligned to challenging content and performance standards.”  

    read more

    What’s Next in State Accountability?

    The Lack of Consistency in Accountability Results Across the Country Provokes  This Fundamental Question

    States will soon publish (or have already published) the first results of their federally-mandated accountability systems. 

    read more


    How to Plan for a Balanced Assessment System While Keeping Curriculum in Mind

    An Approach to Promote Coherence by Connecting Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction to Student Learning

    State and district leaders are increasingly interested in implementing balanced systems of assessment, in large part to improve the instructional utility of assessment scores. 

    read more

    How Did “On Track” Get So “Off Track”?

    Colloquial Language is More Familiar, But Can be More Easily Misinterpreted When Reporting Test Results

    With the proliferation of large-scale state summative assessments and published results, one could say that testing has gone mainstream. 

    read more

    Assessment systems

    Rethinking Accountability for Alternative High Schools 

    The Problems with Applying Traditional Performance Ratings to Alternative Schools 

    Alternative high schools serve a vital role in improving outcomes for students, particularly for those students who are most at risk. 

    While there isn’t a uniform definition for “alternative,” the term typically describes a school that primarily serves students who have not been successful in a traditional environment. Alternative high schools often receive students with cumulative academic deficits and take on the vital work of helping students prepare for opportunities after high school. 


    How Effective are Alternative High Schools?

    read more


    The Center for Assessment - 20 Years and Going Strong

    Highlights from 2018 at the Center for Assessment and Setting the Stage for 2019 and Beyond

    The Center for Assessment celebrated its 20th anniversary in September with many long-time friends, and the celebration was highlighted by our 20th Reidy Interactive Lecture Series (RILS) where Center professionals reflected on the past and offered a vision for the future. 

    read more

    A Post-Mortem on Maine’s Proficiency-Based Graduation Requirement

    Lessons Learned and Recommendations for Next Steps

    The Maine legislature passed a proficiency-based (also known elsewhere as competency-based or mastery-based) graduation requirement in 2012, which was recently repealed before it was implemented. 

    The repeal prompts us to ask several questions: What went wrong with Maine’s proficiency-based diploma initiative that prompted its repeal? What lessons can be learned to help other states implementing similar policies or pursuing similar initiatives? What can help mitigate some of the concerns that led to the repeal?


    read more

    Federal, State, and Local School Accountability

    The Ways in Which Each Group Plays a Part in Improving Student Learning

    Over the last two decades, the focus of school accountability has shifted from schools and districts to state accountability systems developed to meet federal requirements.  

    read more

    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. 

    read more


    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. 

    read more