Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Beyond test scores: The right way to assess students and schools - The Washington Post

Beyond test scores: The right way to assess students and schools - The Washington Post:

Beyond test scores: The right way to assess students and schools

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For years students, schools, teachers, principals and even states have been “graded” by student standardized test scores under the false premise that the scores alone are legitimate measures of how much a student has learned, how well a teacher has taught, and how schools are closing the achievement gap.
Now that the test-centric No Child Left Behind law has been retired in favor of the new Every Student Succeeds Act, there is a new opportunity for states to construct new assessment systems that make more sense, and a new report details how such a system could be constructed.
The report, “Assessment Matters: Constructing Model States Systems to Replace Testing Overkill,” was just issued by the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, or FairTest, a non-profit dedicated to ending the abuse and misuse of standardized tests. This post is based on the report, and it was written by Monty Neill, executive director of FairTest.

By Monty Neill
The way we measure students’ academic progress sends powerful messages about what kinds of learning we value. When measurement systems are used to evaluate schools, the factors they emphasize can control classroom practices, for good or ill.
The test-and-punish approach embodied in the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law undermined educational quality for many. It inhibited school improvement. It delivered a message that deep learning and supportive, healthy school environments do not matter.
The damage has been most severe in the most under-resourced communities. There, the fixation on boosting test scores not only harmed teaching and learning, it also led to mass firings and school closings. The deteriorating educational climates fed the school-to-prison pipeline.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced NCLB, allows states to shift the thrust of accountability away from punishing schools and teachers. Instead it allows them to focus on providing genuine help to improve educational quality and equity.
ESSA also includes an “Innovative Assessment” pilot project, which opens the door to significantly better assessments. The word “assess” comes from the Latin term meaning “to sit beside.” Assessing implies a direct and active relationship between or among people. Assessing could involve an observation by a teacher, a conversation between teacher and student, or Beyond test scores: The right way to assess students and schools - The Washington Post:

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