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


    Ready for RILS!

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

    Much like the last 20 years, the 10 weeks since our first CenterLine post announcing the 2018 Reidy Interactive Lecture Series (RILS) have gone by in a blur.  In just a few days, the Center team will gather with educators, policy makers, assessment specialists, and researchers, old friends and new friends, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire for the 20th annual RILS conference.

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    The Burden of Proof: A Call for Validation Plans and Evidence in Educational Programs

    Why Evaluation of Educational System Designs is Critical to Measuring Effectiveness and Results

    Educational policy makers, program designers, and intervention developers typically identify a problem and propose a solution to that problem. Likely, they have a lot of experience and expertise that informs the design of the solution to that problem–but how do they know the assessment design achieved the intended outcomes? 

    When it comes to educational assessment systems, we should be asking ourselves two key questions: 

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    Assessment Competency-based Assessment

    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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    Assessment Test-based Accountability

    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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    Assessment Assessment systems Local Assesment

    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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    Center updates

    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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    Accountability Standard Setting

    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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