Through-year assessment is enjoying a surge of attention. More than a dozen states are designing, piloting, or implementing versions of this assessment model to replace their current end-of-year summative test for accountability. Through-year programs may provide benefits, but will also demand significant tradeoffs. Because through-year programs pose many conceptual, technical and practical challenges, states will have to make even harder choices among competing priorities than typical testing programs demand.
This paper explores three clusters of important considerations about through-year assessment, and provides practical recommendations for each: (1) their conceptualization and design; (2) their relationship to curriculum and instruction; and (3) their logistical and technical challenges.
The paper includes an appendix of through-year programs states are using or considering, organized into common models. The authors conclude by urging states to carefully interrogate the trade-offs inherent in any through-year assessment program, bearing in mind their state’s vision and goals.