Getting Assessment Right in ESEA Reauthorization

Yesterday, the Forum on Education Accountability (FEA) hosted a discussion with Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University, Gene Wilhoit from the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Monty Neil of FEA.

The panelists discussed issues regarding assessments in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, including performance assessment, use of local and classroom evidence of learning, formative and summative assessment, possibilities of new technology, and the role of common core standards and assessments.

Linda Darling-Hammond gave an international  perspective on other countries assessment methods.  While the U.S. tends to test students on recall and rote learning, other countries are more concerned with hands-on experience and application of knowledge.  In Singapore, students are evaluated through project-based assessments where they are asked to identify a problem, design an investigation, evaluate their methods and use various scientific technologies and apparatus.

During the question and answer period, the panelists stressed that while performance-based assessments are more expensive than the current tests administered in the U.S., they are worth the investment for several reasons.  First, they are cheaper than intervention or remediation later.  Second, students learn more through application, and teachers learn more by designing such tests.  Finally, performance-based assessments will yield higher quality results than multiple choice tests alone.

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